Fitness doesn’t have to hurt
Knee pain is a problem we’re all too familiar with — as about one-third of Americans say they have regular knee pain.
But how well do you know your knees?
- Did you know babies are born without kneecaps? They actually don’t form until the early walking years.
- You can actually walk without kneecaps. They’re like a shield to protect the knee joint, but they’re not essential for mobility.
Now that you’re better acquainted with your knees, let’s talk about how knee pain impacts your fitness routine.
Knee pain isn’t something you want to push through
There’s always going to be some discomfort with exercise, but there’s a point where it becomes pain. Knee pain can be your body sending you a warning you don’t want to ignore!
Always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially when you’re experiencing joint pain.
A good rule of thumb for discerning whether a discomfort is just a byproduct of building strength or a signal that you’re heading toward injury is where it’s happening.
If the sensation is in a muscle group, you can generally give it a couple days to subside and verify that it’s just part of becoming stronger.
But if the sensation is in your joints, like a sharp tendon twinge or a dull knee pain, you want to stop that exercise and look for another routine.
Build strength in your joints without straining them
Here are some great exercises that will minimize impact on your knees. We also mixed in some that will actually help you strengthen your knees.
- Focus on your hamstrings and quads. Squats aren’t necessarily forbidden if you have knee pain, as long as you can comfortably do a partial (less than 90 degree) squat. Partial squats, straight leg raises, calf raises, and walking backwards on an inclined treadmill (don’t knock it ‘till you try it) are all great for building strength in and around your knees. You can see pictures of these exercises here.
- Ride a bike. You can take an outdoor ride, or use a stationary bike. Recumbent stationary bikes are especially gentle on knees.
- Try swimming or water aerobics. Any exercise you do in water is going to reduce impact on your joints. If you don’t like swimming laps, check your community center’s calendar and try something that sounds fun to you.
- Take a walk. Walking is a great gentle cardio routine. Try to avoid walking long distances on concrete. Asphalt is going to absorb more impact, sparing your knees some wear and tear. Walking on grass is even better!
- Do yoga — with some caution. Yoga can be a fantastic, low-impact exercise that supports the muscles that surround your knees, but as with squats, you want to avoid positions that put your knees at 90 degree angles, such as full warrior pose. Try modifying your sun salutations with peaceful warrior. Also be on the lookout for kneeling poses like camel pose. You can find pictures of some knee-friendly poses (and problem poses) here.
Don’t stop exercising just because you can’t do high-impact routines
Especially when you’re trying to lose significant weight, it’s tempting to pick an intense cardio program to “blast off the pounds,” as the infomercials promise.
But weight loss is only a single factor in caring for your body — you also care for your body by listening to warning signals like knee pain.
Walking or pool aerobics may be the best exercises for you, and they’re quite effective for burning calories, building muscle, and helping your heart stay healthy — even if there aren’t a lot of infomercials for them!
When low-impact fitness is still too much
Sometimes, especially when a person is carrying too much weight, even gentle exercise, like walking from a parking lot into a store, can be excruciating.
If you’re struggling in the catch-22 of wanting to exercise to lose some weight, but finding exercise too painful, you may find the solution you’re looking for with a bariatric procedure.
Though weight loss surgery isn’t the answer for everyone, we would be delighted to sit down and discuss your situation and let you know whether you’re a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery.
Dr. Clapp is ready to answer your questions and help you find the weight loss solution that best suits your situation, so you can get active without pain!
To schedule your consultation, or for cost and pricing information, please call 915-534-1051.