Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind if the state of your knees have you wincing in pain. But just when you think you should rest it out, medical advice encourages movement. This is the reason why knee pain exercises exist. They counter the pain by facing it head on so that you restore good function in your knees and prevent future injuries.
Here are 4 types of exercises for knee pain relief.
1. Range-of-Motion Exercises
Range of motion (ROM) is the normal amount of movement that you should have within a joint. Individuals suffering from knee pain are advised to move their joints to get them “oiled” up rather than impairing function by succumbing to pain.
ROM exercise is one of the simple ways to do so. These exercises are easy to execute even on your own and they can be done anywhere and anytime. There are several ROM exercises for the knee and you are advised to engage in them after receiving appropriate medical advice from your doctor or physical therapist.
Adapting a routine and sticking to it can improve joint stiffness. It is a general rule to do each of these exercises 2-3 times a day, although this can be modified to suit your needs.
For it to be safe and effective, these exercises must be executed with slow and deliberate movements. Aim to feel a slight stretch and expect some discomfort to accompany it. However, any sharp and stabbing pain is a sign that you should hold it off/ hit pause to avoid further injuries.
2. Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises, or what most of us would refer to as “cardio,” can also help alleviate mild to severe knee pain. By pumping up your heart rate and breathing rate, these exercises deliver oxygen-rich blood to working muscles. What makes this favorable for anybody dealing with pain is the fact that it only calls for a simple, practical, and realistic plan.
Aerobic exercises suitable for knee pain include:
Unlike running, walking is a low-impact exercise that can help mobilise joint fluids and lubricate your joints. A dedicated walking regimen can reduce inflammation and ease knee joint stiffness. However, it takes proper form and terrain to execute this properly without causing undue strain. Studies show that by retraining your gait and avoiding inclined surfaces or rugged terrain, you spare the knee muscles and joints from too much tension.
This low-impact exercise can help build up your muscles around the knees, improve joint support, and eventually ease your symptoms. The buoyancy of the water supports your weight which means your joints are not as strained hence reducing the pain you feel. With proper technique, swimming allows you to do the activity vigorously without harming your joints. You also get to lose weight in the process which also proves beneficial for your bad knee.
Cycling strengthens the muscles at the front of your thighs which protects the knees. Stronger muscles help stabilise the knees, allowing them to be strong shock absorbers that help reduce pain and damage. This activity can be enjoyed outdoors or in the comfort of your own home using stationary bikes. Even senior patients, or those with back pain, can enjoy this too by using recumbent bikes instead of the usual gym staples.
This activity involves water exercise classes designed for people who need a low-impact workout. It is appropriate for those with severe osteoarthritis. While it is easy on the joints, it can also strengthen the joint muscles with water being 12 times more resistant than air.
If you choose to take on any aerobic exercise to tackle your problem with knee pain, know that there are some guidelines that you should follow. It’s important to be safe while engaging in this exercise.
3. Stretching Exercises
Knee stretches target 4 target muscle groups, your hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and your calf muscles. With most knee injuries boiling down to lack of flexibility and strength in and around the knee joints, stretching can help develop that.
Stretching exercises involve myofascial release, which is a technique that involves the application of gentle and sustained pressure to the body’s connective tissues to alleviate pain and restore motion.
While stretching can be done on your own, it pays to have it done under the supervision of a professional when you are dealing with knee injuries and other knee problems.
4. Muscle-Strengthening Exercises
Muscle strengthening exercises are also referred to as resistance training. These types of exercises don’t affect the knee joint directly, but they help strengthen the muscles around it. Strong leg muscles provide good support for the knee thereby alleviating pressure and strain on the joints. This helps relieve pain and prevent further injury.
In strengthening the muscles, any form of resistance is important. It can come from workout machines, elastic bands, free weights and even your body’s weight (e.g. push-ups). Knee band exercises, for instance, can improve knee stability which also boosts pain relief.
Muscle-strengthening programs are usually structured progressively. To build muscle strength and size, the amount of resistance used is gradually increased in increments of 5-10% to avoid overload and injury. To ensure that you ease into these exercises properly, you must get professional guidance.
There are several considerations to ensure proper execution such as knowing how to target specific muscles, the use of appropriate weight or resistance, and using the right measures for muscle recovery.
Knee Pain Doesn’t Have to Define Your Future
Through engaging in these exercises, you are taking the first step towards restoring your knees. With consistency and determination, knee pain may be a thing of your past! It won’t be easy, but with the right help and guidance, you will experience the suite of benefits that exercise brings in addition to pain relief.