There is no such thing as a "good" or "nice" injury. While some are definitely more serious than others, all injuries are basically bullshit, especially if they keep you from training hard or just enjoying life. And in my case, training hard and hard is the essence of enjoying life.
Although I have a long history of back problems, lately my knees have become the bane of my workout. I recently had two painful knee surgeries - the last of which was just a few months ago - so I know firsthand how much a knee injury can suck for an iron patient. You work so hard for so long, to seemingly get it all out in the blink of an eye.
None of my injuries are related to lifting, but they've clearly had a big impact on my training.
But an injury doesn't have to be a death sentence for a coaching career -unless you let it be one.
Here are some tips to help you overcome your knee problems and turn them into nothing more than a speed bump on the road to long-term success.
This is one of those tips that is often repeated but often overlooked. I know I've conquered it more times than I can count, and I also know I've paid the price every time.
Trying to train through pain is a guaranteed losing battle. Even if you "win" and can deal with it in the short term, it always comes back to bite you in the butt, and usually much worse than if you had just given in to the onset of pain.
Now keep in mind that surrendering doesn't mean hanging it all up, giving up and handing over your man's card. It just means avoiding what hurts and listening to your body.
This last part is worth repeating: listenyoursbody.
For example, some people swear by the Peterson Steps for improving knee pain, but every time I tried them, they hurt.
Does that make them bad exercises? For me yes, but if they work for you, keep doing them.
Don't be tempted to do something just because you've heard it's right. If you try it and it doesn't feel right, ditch the groove and take a different approach.
A lot of knee pain in the gym stems from unbalanced programming that puts too much emphasis on the quadriceps and neglects the glutes and hamstrings, leaving people woefully weak and underdeveloped posterior chains.
It may seem counterintuitive, but to achieve the desired balance we're aiming for, we actually want to continue unbalanced programming - only the balance should be in favor of hip-dominant work over quad-dominant work.
In addition, hip-dominant movement patterns (deadlifts, bridging, etc.) are generally better tolerated by people with bad knees, so it's a good way to get a lower-body workout in the presence of knee pain when the squat and lunge are problematic.
An easy place to start is to do your dominant hip work first during the workout. This will allow you to give it your full attention so you don't blow it, and it will also serve as a sort of pre-exhaust for your legs so you don't need as much weight for quad-dominant exercises. it will further help take the stress off your knees.
If you came to me and said your goal was to star as Quadzilla in an upcoming blockbuster movie, I could tell you to do heel squats, lunges, and split squats in a short stride. bomb, and maybe even a few sssy squats for good measure.
That would certainly net you some huge quads, but it might not be long before your knees give out and you'll find yourself banging on the shelf with Ben and Jerry's and wailing as you watch your once stout legs wither to toothpicks.
Some people can do these exercises for years without a problem (and usually have big thighs to show it), while others get knee pain from watching them. For those in the latter category, stop trying to target your quads with a forward weight shift and learn how to sit and share the load with your hips while maintaining more of a vertical shin.
If you're concerned that your quadriceps aren't getting enough stimulation, remember that the most important factor in building muscle and strength is consistency, which means your primary goal should be to stay healthy in the long run.
Straps can be very helpful in facilitating consistent weight shifting to the rear and safely strengthening the quads.
Here are a few different ways you can use them to suit your needs.
For real one-leg work, such as single-leg squats and skater squats, attach one end of a band to a sturdy post (a power rack works fine) and tuck the other end behind your knee. From there, perform the exercise as you normally would. Watch the video below.
The band forces you to lean back to avoid pulling forward, putting strain on the hips and relieving the knee on the rep's bottom.
Here's the fun. As you ascend, it shifts from a hip-dominant movement pattern to a more quad-dominant knee extension (TKE), allowing you to strengthen the vastus medius (VMO) through a more knee-friendly range of motion.
You can also do something similar to working split poses like split squats and Bulgarian split squats, only it's better to attach the strap to a belt rather than behind your knee to make your position easier.
Make sure to set up with a longer stride so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor.
The band increases the demands on the quads because you have to constantly push through your toes to grip the floor and maintain stability, but it does so within safe joint ranges because it simultaneously forces you to sit comfortably and maintain a vertical shin to not get stuck. pulled forward.
To help build a good bilateral squat pattern, try hip belt cable squats, which I wrote about in more detailhere. A band is also on a pinch, but it's going to be hard to get enough of it
The cable doesn't drastically change your squatting pattern, but it still allows you to squat freely while reflexively learning to sit.
Lunges are generally not something I like for people dealing with knee pain.
The worst knee violations are forward walks and running walks due to the high degree of deceleration and eccentric stress. But even inverses, which are faster in nature, can be problematic.
Instead, I'd recommend starting with static exercises like split squats and then Bulgarian split squats that provide a solid base of support so you can set up with a vertical shin and maintain that position throughout the set.
The only exception may be slideboard reverse lunges, which is actually a hybrid exercise.
While it looks like a knee-dominant lunge pattern and you definitely use your quads to some degree, when done correctly it's actually more hip-dominant -- you pull yourself up to the starting position using your posterior chain.
In addition, the back leg never leaves the ground, so there is a higher degree of stability than with other lunge variants.
You can also try placing a band or bench directly in front of the working leg as a physical reminder to keep your weight on your heels and prevent the knee from moving too far forward.
With all of this, remember rule #1.
Reverse sleds are a great exercise that is comfortable for you and serves as both a rehabilitation tool and a muscle/strength builder.
Since making them a staple in my routine, my knees feel significantly better. I've even regained some of the muscle I lost in my right quadriceps, to the point where my legs are nice and flat again. I'm far from out of the woods, but it was a big step in the right direction.
At the time this photo was taken, I was basically doing nothing but backward sledding and hip-dominant work.
Sleds certainly won't replace lifting heavy weights, but they're better than nothing, and they can at least help prevent muscle loss in the meantime.
Here's how I implemented the sled into my program when I was unable to do significant knee-dominant work:
- Do it four times a week, so basically every workout.If I feel like I need to take a day off, I'll take it.
- I use a very simple method to choose the right weight.I keep adding weight until my knee hurts and then I pull out a plate. This is my weight for today. Some days it's heavier than others, but I don't worry too much about it.
- On days that focus on the upper body, I combine upside down sledding with the most important lift of the day: pull-ups, presses, etc.Between each set of this exercise (including the warm-up sets), I walk the sled the entire length of the gym, which is about 25 yards each time. Again, I'm not too concerned about the weight and just focus on keeping it pain free.
- On days that target the lower body, I do them at the end of the workout after hip-dominant work.Here I am using a timed method where I reserve a certain amount of time and just keep walking until the time runs out. I started with three minutes and slowly worked my way up to 10-15 minutes. This is much harder than it sounds.
They burn like crazy while you're doing them, but since there's no eccentric element, they don't paralyze you with pain, so you can use a higher frequency.
If you do them along with other knee-dominant work, 1-2 times a week is sufficient. In this case, I would do them before crouching and breathing to warm up your knees and work your quadriceps.
Usually I do them with a belt so I'm not limited by my grip, but here's a clever variation I like to use from time to time to get some bonus upper back work too. I couldn't think of a clever name for it, so I went with "Batwing" Reverse Sled Drags, because it's kind of like Dan John'sbatwing-concept.
Pull the sled toward you, then keep your elbows pulled down and back and keep your arms at your sides as you walk back.
Without a sled? Check out this article by Tim onmake your own sled.
If this is still not an option due to space constraints, try walking on the treadmill facing back with the belt closed and set at a slight incline.
This is a great exercise that can be used for recovery purposes or as part of a warm-up.
Stomps are usually thought of as a posterior chain exercise powered by hip extension, while TKEs are designed to strengthen the quadriceps (particularly the VMO) through terminal knee extension.
Put those two together and you have a good combination: hip extension, knee extension and a nice full range of motion.
Setup is key here. With a traditional band, you position the band closer to your heel and focus on pushing off with your heel. With this version, bring the band closer to your toes and consciously think about pushing off your toes. As your foot approaches the floor, squeeze both your quadriceps and glutes.
To encourage more hip extension, the toes should land slightly behind the heel of the opposite foot.
You can adjust the difficulty by choosing a thicker tire or increasing the height of the bar. I like to do this with the bar about mouth level, as this puts me in a starting position where my thigh is parallel to the floor.
Try adding a few sets to the beginning of your lower-body workouts as part of your warm-up, or on upper-body days for some low-impact supplemental work.
The days of jumping on the bike for 5-10 minutes before training seem to have passed in favor of stretching, auto-myofascial release, activation exercises, etc.
I certainly think things are important and I do it all myself, but I also think that 5-10 minutes of cycling can go a long way towards feeling better and having better workouts by helping to raise overall tissue temperature and "lubricate" the skin ". knee joints, as it were, by reducing the viscosity of the synovial fluid.
Generally I get on the bike as the last part of my warm-up just before lifting, but if it's very cold outside or early in the morning and I'm struggling to move, I'll do it first before I begin the rest of the warm-up.
I've heard conflicting arguments about whether you should train your non-injured limb. I've tried both ways and I'm all for training the good leg.
Some studies have shown that training one limb can increase strength in the contralateral limb, but I do it mostly for my mental state.
When I focus on whatable toI'm doing unlike what I can't, I'm feeling better and I honestly believe that positivity has a big impact on recovery. Whether you choose to believe the same is up to you.
As for the concern that exercising the healthy leg will create and exacerbate size and strength imbalances between the limbs, in most cases we are talking about a few months, tops. Realistically, you won't be building much muscle in that time anyway, so it probably won't make a huge difference.
I hope I've given you some great tips to take away and apply to your own situation so your knee pain doesn't stop you dead in your tracks.
However, proceed with caution. It's easy to get excited and overdo it. Even if you do "good" knee-friendly things, you can still do a lot of good things.
Less can often be more when it comes to managing pain, so keep that in mind as you go along. At the same time, an injury is no excuse to throw in the towel.
Find the balance and let loose!
The Best Exercises for Bad Knees. The most effective way to alleviate pain in your knee joints is simply to get moving, Woods says. “Walking, water aerobics, cycling, swimming, yoga, and strength training all help improve the symptoms associated with arthritic knee pain and knee pain in general.”What exercises are best for knee pain? ›
- Water aerobics. Water aerobics is an excellent choice of workout for people with knee pain. ...
- Biking. Biking is great for improving range of motion, flexibility and strength. ...
- Yoga. Yoga is wonderful for flexibility, especially for the areas around the knee that might be tight. ...
The Best Exercises for Bad Knees. The most effective way to alleviate pain in your knee joints is simply to get moving, Woods says. “Walking, water aerobics, cycling, swimming, yoga, and strength training all help improve the symptoms associated with arthritic knee pain and knee pain in general.”How can I strengthen my knees in old age? ›
- Mini squat with support. Hold onto the back of a sturdy, heavy chair or the edge of a counter. ...
- Quad tightening. Sit on the floor on a mat with a pillow under your knees and your legs stretched straight out in front of you. ...
- Standing hamstring curl. ...
- In-place marching. ...
- Heel raises. ...
- Clamshells. ...
- Squeeze and slide.
High-impact exercises can further injure painful knees. Avoid jarring exercises such as running, jumping, and kickboxing. Also avoid doing exercises such as lunges and deep squats that put a lot of stress on your knees. These can worsen pain and, if not done correctly, cause injury.What exercises should you avoid with bad knees? ›
The worst exercises for people with bad knees are full-arc knee extension (using the machine at the gym), full-deep lunges, deep squats, and Hurdler's stretches as these exercises put excessive strain on the knee joints, increasing pain and causing injury.What is the #1 mistake that makes bad knees worse? ›
You're putting too much pressure on your knee
The right exercise is good for your knee, and the wrong exercise, such as running, can put too much pressure on your knee. Likewise, doing deep bends and squats for exercise for leisure, as with gardening, can exacerbate knee pain.
A common reason for long-term knee pain in older people is osteoarthritis. It is thought to be caused by wear and tear in the joint. In a healthy joint, the knee bends and straightens smoothly because of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. Over time, damage to this cartilage can lead to osteoarthritis.What is the natural remedy for knee pain in elderly? ›
Heat and ice can both be used to manage different parts of knee pain. Ice helps reduce swelling and inflammation and is best with injuries. Heat can help with pain management, especially on stiff joints. It can also help mobility.How can I strengthen my weak knees at home? ›
- Leg lifts.
- Standing hamstring curls.
- Hamstring curls on a weight bench.
- Step exercises.
- Single-leg dip.
- Wall squats.
- Post-exercise stretching.
The simplest hack your cl-t will adore.
For those unfamiliar, that knee thing refers to a makeout position where one person is on the bottom with their thighs straddling their lover. The lover on top then spreads the bottom lover's legs and uses their knee to pleasure the clitoris.
Massaging the knee can be very beneficial if you are experiencing stiffness, pain, or swelling in your knees. Whatever the cause of your knee injury may be, massaging the knee can provide relaxation and take pressure off any nerves that may be causing you pain.What is the permanent solution for knee pain? ›
If arthritis is causing knee pain, your treatment may include medication and physical therapy. Doctors can usually repair tendon and ligament tears with minimally invasive surgery, if necessary. More serious knee pain may require knee replacement surgery.Does riding a stationary bike help knee pain? ›
Research shows that low-intensity stationary biking is just as effective at easing pain and increasing fitness for people with knee osteoarthritis as tougher. high-intensity cycling workouts. After you're comfortable on the bike, gradually increase your speed.How should I sleep with knee pain? ›
Back or Side Sleeping for Less Knee Pain
If on your back, put a pillow under your knees for support. On your side, keep your knee in a flexed position to minimize pain. Try to never sleep with your legs crossed. If you have knee pain due to injury, you should see an orthopaedic specialist.
The Exercise: Take a step forward while moving your right foot toward your midline, then back out to the right. This will appear like a skating pattern. Repeat with your opposite foot. Keep your hips level and feet parallel as you walk.What muscles should I strengthen for bad knees? ›
Strengthening exercises. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you can help reduce the stress on your knee joint by regularly working the muscles around your knee. To help strengthen your knees, focus on moves that work your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and hip muscles.Do bad knees ever heal? ›
There is no cure for arthritis of the knee. It's a lifelong condition. But the good news is treatment can relieve some of the symptoms. Treatment might even slow down or stop the disease from getting worse.Do bad knees ever get better? ›
Knee pain will usually go away without further medical treatment, using only a few self-help measures. If you need help you might first see a physiotherapist or your GP.What are the five most common knee problems? ›
- Knee Fracture. Your patella, or your knee cap, protects your knee joints from injuries or further damage. ...
- Knee Dislocation. A knee dislocation occurs when the knee bones come out of place. ...
- Knee Ligament Injury. ...
- Meniscus Tear. ...
- Knee Tendon Tear.
The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.Is glucosamine good for knee pain? ›
Oral use of glucosamine sulfate might provide some pain relief for people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Some research shows that it may also help slow knee joint degeneration associated with osteoarthritis.What is Stage 3 knee pain? ›
At this stage there is very little cartilage left and there are very large bald patches (i.e. the tyre is bald). Symptoms: Constant ache/pain often severe affecting the whole knee or hip. The area may be swollen, thickened, stiff and there is often pain on weight bearing.What is the best vitamin for aching knees? ›
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most commonly used supplements for arthritis. They're components of cartilage—the substance that cushions the joints.Which vitamin is good for knee pain? ›
These nutrients include glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, bromelain, collagen, vitamin C, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. All of these nutrients help reduce pain and inflammation. You can even take supplements like curcumin (turmeric) and vitamin C before bed to improve joint function.What vitamin deficiency causes knee pain? ›
Do you know that one of the most vital nutrients that promote bone health is Vitamin D? Yes, multiple studies show that a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to joint pain and swelling. As Vitamin D is required for bone building and bone health, therefore a deficiency of it will negatively affect the bones.What 3 exercises will help strengthen legs? ›
Combining running and walking with strength training and other forms of aerobic exercise like swimming, elliptical training and cycling can add variety to your workout and can greatly improve your performance. Sports like soccer and basketball are great for improving leg power as well.Can elderly regain leg strength? ›
"Older people can definitely regain good leg strength if they do regular strengthening exercises and increase the intensity of their exercises in a slow and safe way.Can knee pain go away with exercise? ›
"Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for knee pain," says Dr. Lauren Elson, an instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. The right combination of strengthening and stretching exercises can relieve pain by helping to improve the way the joint moves and functions.Is walking good for painful knees? ›
Walking as a form of exercise has enormous benefits, particularly for older adults. It's easy on the joints and helps boost heart health and improve circulation and balance. And new research now suggests that taking a walk can reduce and prevent knee pain related to osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.
Avoid any type of exercise that involves jumping if you have knee pain, recommends Stuchin. Do walk. Moderate walking is recommended for people with knee pain because it's a low-impact activity.What makes knee pain worse? ›
But high-impact activities can make knee pain worse. Exercise like running, kickboxing, or high intensity interval training (HIIT) can jar your joints and make your knee pain worse. Some stretching exercises, like squats and lunges, can put extra pressure on your knees as well.What is a simple home remedy for knee pain? ›
Heat and ice can both be used to manage different parts of knee pain. Ice helps reduce swelling and inflammation and is best with injuries. Heat can help with pain management, especially on stiff joints. It can also help mobility.How do you reduce inflammation in the knee? ›
- Rest. Avoid weight-bearing activities as much as possible.
- Ice and elevation. To control pain and swelling, apply ice to your knee for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 4 hours. ...
- Compression. Wrapping your knee with an elastic bandage can help control the swelling.
- Pain relievers.
Cycling makes knee joint bend and stretch gently and helps to ease the movement of the joint. Cycling also improves the muscle strength around the knee joint, which ultimately protects the knee joint if there are any impact actions. So it's wise to say that cycling promotes knee joint health in many ways.How far should I walk with bad knees? ›
Start at an easy or moderate pace as you build endurance. Eventually, aim to walk briskly at 2.5 to 3.5 mph or a pace that you find challenging. Aim for 6,000 steps per day: A study found that people with osteoarthritis knee pain benefit most when they walk 6,000 steps or more per day.What is the fastest way to cure knee pain? ›
- Rest. Take a break from your normal activities to reduce repetitive strain on your knee, give the injury time to heal and help prevent further damage. ...
- Ice. Ice reduces both pain and inflammation. ...
- Heat. ...
- Compression. ...
When it comes to exercise, medical experts agree: it's bad advice. “It's not really true. Having that mentality and trying to push through your knee pain is just going to make things worse,” says Christopher Kim, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine.What is better for knee pain heat or cold? ›
Knee Pain: Use Ice or Heat
If there is swelling in your knee, you should ice for at least 72 hours until the swelling goes down. After that, heat can be used to help regain mobility. If you are suffering from joint tightness and stiffness, heat can help relax these away.
"I think it's a myth to make the general statement that exercise is bad for your joints or actually wears your joints out," Professor McNeil says. "There's no evidence for that."