Chances are, you know someone with one (or two) chronic achy knees. Whether from a previous injury or from high-impact exercises like running, knee injuries “are catching up and maybe even exceeding lower back problems,” according to the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Knee-strengthening exercises are one of the best ways to avoid further knee injuries and to rehabilitate the knee to treat any existing pain. Here are a few exercises you can try that won’t take a toll on your knees and will instead help them out!
Gentle stretching, like what you find in a yin or hatha yoga class, is integral to knee pain prevention and/or rehabilitation, especially if you’re doing more strenuous exercises along with it. Stretching eliminates soreness and helps keep your muscles flexible; when your muscles are flexible, you’re less likely to have an injury or experience knee pain.
Make sure to let your instructor know at the beginning of class if you have a previous knee injury or are experiencing pain. Luckily, many yoga poses have modifications to allow those with knee issues to experience the full expression of the pose while also keeping their knees safe.
Doing laps in the pool is a great way to get in a full-body, cardio workout when running takes too much of a toll on your knees. When you’re submerged in water, you automatically become lighter, which gives you the ability to work out without a harsh impact on your skeletal system.
Swimming increases muscle tone and strength as well as flexibility so it’s the perfect all-over workout that also works to protect your knees.
Believe it or not, kickboxing is another good cardio alternative to running for those with wonky knees. Your instructor can easily modify the intensity of the workout to keep your knees protected so make sure you key them in on what’s going on at the beginning of class. Plus, you get the added fun of taking out your frustrations in a productive way!
You may have seen these classes popping up in your gym lately that look like ballet classes; those are called barre classes and they’re great for those with knee pain. Because you’re using the barre for the majority of the workout, there’s very little impact to your knees. The barre also offers easy modifications in case you do feel any pain during this extremely hard workout.
While cycling machines are usually available in most gyms, you may want to get in on a spin class to get the benefits of cycling without the knee pain. Cycling is a great cardio workout with similar benefits as those of running and can take a significant amount of pressure off your knees while you do it. The only thing with this one is you run the risk of damaging your knees further if your form isn’t just right. That’s why we recommend getting in a class where a certified instructor can help you manage your form and improve your knee pain.
Are we missing any of your favorite knee-safe workouts? If so, let us know about them in the comments below!
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.