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Tips for Maintaining Exercise Routines with Knee Pain
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Tags: exercise with bad knees, exercise with hurting knees

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If you experience knee pain during physical activity it does not mean the end of all physical activity.  You can remain active by switching to exercises that have less of an impact on your knees.  You need to work to strengthen your lower body to withstand the wear and tear of whatever exercise you ultimately choose as routine.

Activities that tend to be hardest on the knees include:

•    Ones that involve excessive flexing especially with weights such as a full squat or leg press
•    Any type of exercise that involves sudden stops, starts and pivots, or potentially awkward jumps and landings such as basketball, tennis, soccer, racquetball and football.
•    Jumping exercises called plyometrics that focus on increasing muscle power can also be hard on the knee joint
•    Running cross-country or on uneven surfaces can be hard on the knee especially if you have some inherent misalignment in the joint.  Try running on a treadmill.  A treadmill will soften the impact of your step and provide a flat and even surface.

Jogging in moderation is not actually hard on problem free knees.  This would be jogging to a slower-pace, short-distance run.  Some people think jogging can cause arthritis, however, mild to moderate running or jogging has not been shown to increase the incidence of osteoarthritis.  A history of knee injury is one of the biggest factors in a long-term arthritis risk for joggers.

Activities that are easier on the knees include:

•    Swimming (except for the butterfly stroke)
•    Walking and bicycling are good exercises for bad knees (these activities are not high-impact)
•    An elliptical machine in the gym is a good option.  It has pedals instead of a flat, treadmill-like surface and allows you to simulate running and walking without the impact on your joints.
•    Any activity where there is a reduced impact or no quick direction changes is a good choice for bad knees.

Causes of severe knee pain include:

•    Generally NOT from overuse, but from a sudden injury that is often acquired during quick weight shifts and direction changes, or upon landing from a jump.
•    Injuries can also develop over time, from repetitive stress that damages cartilage and other soft tissue in the knee joint.  One common overuse injury is runner’s knee.
•    ITBS is usually seen in long-distance runners and cyclists, but can occur in soccer players, skiers and weight lifters.

What you can do for overuse pain is:

•    Reduce activities to help ease the pain of the overuse injury
•    Physical therapy
•    Medical treatment

If you have bad knees, you need to first find out what the exact injury involves, and how bad it is after activity before you make a final decision about slowing down activity and what sort of activities you can still do.  You probably are better off consulting with a doctor, certified trainer or physical therapist to help you build an appropriate exercise program.

Exercises that can be done to prevent knee problems include:

•    Strengthening the core muscles like your back, abdomen and hip muscles as well as your quadriceps and hamstrings.
•    If you are in reasonably good condition, a wall sit is a good exercise to do.
•    Light leg presses
•    Hamstring curls
•    Leg extensions are also good exercise for improving bad knees

The Wall Sit Exercise

1.    take about two steps away from the wall
2.    then lean back so that your whole back is supported by the wall
3.    slide down until you are almost to the point of sitting in a chair, but not quite
4.    then slide back up
5.    It is important to make sure the knee never goes past the foot.

By Connie Limon
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