Amid a pandemic, it’s extremely important to stay in shape. But having a bad knee can be a challenge. Running or jogging, in particular, can be tough on your knees. So how can you get your heart rate up and keep moving, without putting too much strain on your knee and risking an old injury to occur again?
Below, we will highlight low-impact exercises you can try. But if you suddenly experience pain in your knee, seek professional help right away. Or better yet, get your doctor to sign off on these exercises.
If you have a pool at home, swimming is your knee’s best bet for cardio. It is a low-impact and versatile workout that helps you burn calories fast. After all, whether you’re doing freestyle or backstroke, all major muscle groups in your body, including chest, abdomen, and glutes, are put to work. Freestyle tends to be the best stroke as it can burn about 100 calories every ten minutes—a better result than jogging.
As long as you steer clear from hills and ride to flat terrain, cycling is good even if you have bad knees. Cycling is a great fat-burning workout that will also gradually improve your knee strength and flexibility. Whether you’re riding a bicycle outside or using a stationary bike indoors, be sure to raise your seat level a bit to avoid putting too much pressure on your kneecap. Virtual spin classes are also great. All good spin instructors check for injuries before the class begins to help anyone get the most out of each class.
Any doctor or weight management clinic will tell you that exercise puts stress on the body and can cause more inflammation. If you have a recurring knee injury, go to the elliptical machine rather than a treadmill. With this machine, your feet never leave the pedals, lowering the chance of your knees getting hurt. And if you increase the resistance, you can test your endurance and improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Lower body exercises
Lunges and squats are good exercises, but they can be hard on your knees, especially if done incorrectly. Stick to the following routines to sweat out and strengthen your lower body without risking a knee injury:
- Banded lateral walk – Loop a band around your legs, take a quarter-squat position, and step laterally. This exercise puts your glutes and hips to work without putting a strain on your knees.
- Kettlebell swing – Kettlebell swing is great for targeting the glutes and hamstrings, which are muscle groups responsible for keeping your knees balanced and strong. Holding a kettlebell with both hands and in a half-squat position, stand back up and thrust from your hips to have a momentum to swing the weight to chest height. Repeat the exercise a few times.
- Donkey kick – Get on all fours with your knees under your hips. Keeping your knee bent and using your glutes, lift your left leg straight up as if you want to put the sole of your shoe on the ceiling. Repeat this exercise a few times before you switch to the right leg.
Pilates might not come to mind when you think about exercises for weak knees. But when done correctly, this workout can help improve posture, balance, joint mobility, muscle tones, and boost knee strength. It’s also a good stress-reliever, which can help you handle not only knee problems but also pandemic stress.
Having a bad knee shouldn’t stop you from getting fit and healthy, especially in these trying times. Consider the exercises above to start or get back on your fitness journey without worrying about your knee.