Are you currently experiencing knee pain?
Nowadays, pain related to diseases of the knee-joint are very common and don’t only affect people of higher age. An example would be rheumatic diseases or teared/stretched ligaments surrounding the knee-joint.
Knee injuries take a longer time to heal and require a sports regime that fits the person’s needs. Cortisol injections only alleviate the pain for a few days until it comes back even worse. The reason for this is that Cortisol itself actually destroys the joint.
Luckily, many knee injuries can be treated and prevented with specific exercises.
If you are currently overweight or would like to start strength training but are battling with painful knees – you need an exercise routine that strengthens the muscles surrounding the joint without putting any force on the ligaments and the joint itself.
Today, I will share a workout suitable for bad knees.
In fact, I used it to heal my mother’s knee arthritis (she has rheumatic disease). This exercise routine was inspired by sports medicine research on how to decrease knee pain. This is an excellent article for more insights on this topic!
Work out with knee pain – Prevent and Heal
Before you start
I would like to point out that you still need to adjust the exercises to your own condition. If any of these exercises causes you pain, stop. If you have inflammation going on in your knee-joint, you should stick to doing just the warm up exercises, apply ice and rest the joint. I would also recommend investing in a foam roller and rolling the quadriceps (front of the thighs), as well as the hamstrings (back of the thighs). Make sure not to roll on the joint itself!
Side Clam – 20x
Fire Hydrants– 20x
Donkey Kicks – 20x
Glute Bridge – 20x
Make sure to put a towel under your knee when doing the Donkey Kicks and Fire Hydrants!
If you have trouble activating your glutes, I would recommend to stick to the warm up routine and repeat it every day, twice. Once you have established a mind-muscle connection, you can continue with the workout below.
Circuit 1: 2-3 rounds
Sit to Squat – 20x
(click to see a video)
Good Morning – 20x
Bridge – 20x (single-legged if advanced)
Circuit 2: 2-3 rounds
Hamstring Curl – 20x
Leg Extensions – 20x
- You can perform all of these exercises with bodyweight, with ankle weights, or with resistance bands. I would recommend to use ankle weights for the Hamstring Curls and resistance bands for leg extensions.
- After you have been doing this routine for a while and don’t experience any discomfort in your knee-joint, start adding weight. Don’t fear using weights for these exercises. As long as you are able to properly activate the glutes and core muscles, the additional weight will further decrease your symptoms and strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee-joint.
- I would recommend to do this routine as often as you like. This can be anywhere from 4 times per week to twice. To see faster results, do the warm up routine every day.
- In some workout routines for knee injuries, low Step ups and Half Squats or Lunges are included as well. However, I can confirm from my experience (with my mum) that even those can be high-impact, especially if you have inflammation going on in your joint. Thus, this workout can be done by anyone with joint injuries without risking further damage to the joint.
Why is it important to strengthen glutes and core muscles?
If you have any joint injuries – not only knee pain – strengthening the glutes and core is crucial to release force being transferred to your joints.
The glutes consist of three muscles surrounding the hip-joint. As a group, they are the biggest muscle in our body. They help us stand upright and keep our balance. Now, imagine you have weak glutes.
If your muscles are not able to keep your body stable, the force is going to be transferred to your joints. Unfortunately, our joints were not made to carry that much weight. As a result, ligaments surrounding the joint get stretched, tear and arthritis begins.
The same applies to the core: It consists of your abdominal muscles and your lower back muscles. It is like a corsett running around your torso and helping you keep your posture.
To sum it up, strengthen your muscles to save your joints.
I have applied this principle to myself (battling scoliosis and a labral tear), as well as my mum (knee and shoulder arthritis) and my dad (herniated disc).
When will I start seeing results?
Decreasing joint pain can take a long time. It depends on your current condition and level of inflammation in your joint.
For instance, it took my dad 2 weeks to heal his herniated disc, but 3 months for my mum to get rid of her knee arthritis. Out of the 6 years I have been strength training, I have been pain free for 2 years.
Don’t put the focus on getting results as quickly as possible but on the quality of results. I would rather spend several months of proper training to live pain-free afterwards than getting numerous Cortisol injections that will only leave me pain-free for weeks or even days.
Other sports activities
Additionally to the strength training routine I shared above, you can do other sports activities. The following sports are excellent to increase blood flow to the knee-joint, which speeds up recovery.
If you have enough time, I would recommend doing one of these activities daily for about 15-30min. You should not get sore but rather work up a good sweat and speed up recovery for the muscles you have worked in the strength training routine.
To this day, my mum does indoor cycling every day for 20 min, to prevent knee arthritis.
Cycling will strengthen your entire leg muscles, as well as your core. Make sure to sit upright and push through your heels when you are cycling, to increase glute acivation.
Make sure to push through your heels, suck in your belly and keep an upright posture when walking. Only walk as fast you can without experiencing any pain in your joints.
Swimming does not necessarily strengthen muscles, but it is an excellent way to increase blood flow to your joints and muscles and speed up recovery and healing processes. The water weight does not put any force on your joints, which makes this an excellent activity for overweight people as well.
Only do poses that don’t put any force on the ligaments surrounding your knee-joint. Stretch out your thighs, upper back and chest and relieve stress to decrease inflammation in your body.
I hope these tips will help you alleviate your symptoms and prevent future injuries.
What about you? Have you tried these exercises and seen results?
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