Choose the right exercises to help deal with knee pain

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Knee pain can have several causes, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop exercising. Instead, look out for the right ones to help you deal with the situation.

The knee is the biggest joint in the body, and we use it for several activities such as walking, running, and climbing. Therefore, it is most vulnerable to injury and pain. Pain or injury in the knee makes it more difficult to exercise, especially if one is overweight. However, exercise helps one in restoring knee function, alleviating pain and leading to weight loss

But certain exercises worsen knee pain and put an extra burden on muscles surrounding the knee. Hence, it is important to know which exercises to avoid and which ones to follow if you have knee pain. 

knee pain
Don’t ignore knee pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s what you must keep in mind when you have knee pain:

1. Walk

Moderate walking is recommended for people with stiff and painful knees. Since it is a low-impact activity, it does not burden the knee joint. Long and slow walks are best for those people who avoid brisk walks. Moreover, daily walking helps in losing weight, since carrying extra weight puts additional stress on the knees. 

2. Use knee-friendly exercise equipment

It’s important to use that equipment, which helps in reducing the burden on the kneecap and the muscles surrounding it. Stationary bikes and elliptical machines are knee-friendly, as one has to bend forward while exercising on these machines. This bent position helps in taking more weight off the knee joints. 

3. Strengthen muscles

Quadriceps and hamstrings are two muscle groups that support knees. Therefore, if these muscles are strong, one may get compensation for the weak tendons, ligaments and joints. Using low-impact exercises to strengthen quads and hamstrings may alleviate pain and reduce chances of injury in the future. 

knee pain
Tone your muscles and burn fat with a plank. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Water exercises

Water’s buoyancy takes the load off the knees and helps in reducing stress and trauma on them. Therefore, those who suffer from knee pain must try exercising in water. 

5. Don’t participate in high-impact activities

One should avoid exercises that cause exertion to the knees, especially if they have knee pain. Sports such as tennis, squash, basketball and football are hard on the knees, because they involve sudden starts, stops and turns. Activities that give a sudden shock to the knees tend to be pernicious for the knee joint. 

Also, read: Suffering from arthritis? These exercises can help you cope with knee pain

6. Don’t overdo any exercise

It’s essential to switch between exercises to avoid overuse of the joint. Moreover, if one is doing strengthening exercises for the leg muscles, it’s advised to stop when the muscles are fatigued. Fatigued muscles are unable to absorb extra shock and that results in shifting of the shock to the knee joint. 

knee pain
Over-exercising has no benefits. Image courtesy: Pexels

7. Don’t bend the knees excessively

Some exercises require bending knees beyond 90 degrees. These types of movements can aggravate the knee pain. Therefore, health experts recommend avoiding these exercises. 

Three common causes of knee pain

  • Some causes of knee pain are a bit more serious. However, a common cause in young people, especially those who exercise or play high-impact sports, is patellofemoral pain syndrome. It is also known as the runner’s knee. This syndrome is characterized by pain in the soft tissues and bone around the kneecap.
  • The most usual cause behind the runner’s knee is repetitive trauma, because of overdoing an activity. Treatment may involve rest and physical therapy to stabilize the knee joint.
  • Another common cause of knee pain is osteoarthritis. It is a chronic condition and can happen to anyone, but older people are generally at a higher risk.
  • Last but not least, injury is the third most common cause of knee pain. It can happen anywhere and anytime, and how bad it hurts depends upon its severity. 
knee pain
You just can’t choose to ignore knee stretches. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Benefits of exercising

Exercise is one of the best remedies for any type of knee pain. It alleviates stiffness, swelling and strengthens muscles around the knee. According to a study, exercise reduces the progression of arthritis and often yields better results than medications, injections or surgery. Moreover, strengthening exercises help in building quads and hamstrings muscles groups that give direct support to the knee and reduce the chances of pain and injuries. 

The last word

Exercise is a healthy way to help deal with minor knee pain due to overuse, arthritis, or other causes. Although knee pain may present some exercise barriers, many exercises are easy on the joints and make the situation better. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully choose the moves!

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