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5 Exercise Tips for Bad Knees

You're ready and motivated to workout and lose that weight you've been holding onto for quite some time. You're ready to feel better, happier, and have more energy. 

There's one problem. Your knees aren't having it. In fact, they never have.

Maybe you had an old knee injury that just won't go away or they've gotten more stiff and painful with time. You've tried to get started before but they kept acting up. 

You go to the local gym, hop on the treadmill and go through the same old routine. For the next few days you're in pain, frustrated, and your motivation starts to drop. You try some strength exercises like squats, lunges, and a few machines and those only make matters worse.

It seems like every time you try to get started you're left with pain and frustration. You end up quitting and the cycle continues.

If this story sounds familiar, this is the article for you.

Here at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning it is our mission to change the way you experience the gym forever. You no longer have to do it on your own.

What we know is that getting into the best shape of your life gets remarkably easier with the right amount of guidance and support.

Every day we have new members starting with us with a variety of past and current injury histories. In fact, most members who start with us are dealing with some kind of injury, ache, or pain.

These members join us because they're tired of doing it on their own. They're frustrated by the lack of results, support, and guidance surrounding their health and fitness. They are tired of their knee pain holding them back.

Imagine for a moment being able to get into and stick to a consistent workout routine. Imagine being able to improve your fitness, lose weight, increase your overall energy, and strengthen your knees.

Today we're taking you through the exact steps we take with new members in helping them get started, work around their knee pain and get into the best shape of their life.

Let's get into our top 5 tips to help you workout around and improve those bad knees!


1| Do no harm and avoid these exercises

Step one is removing any movements that cause or can potentially cause knee pain. 

Keep it simple: if it hurts, don't do it.

It is amazing how much better our members feel when we simply remove the exercises or movements that have been causing them pain. 

Think of it like picking a scab: if you don't stop, it's never going to heal. By backing off the things that bug your knees, you allow for a reduction in pain and inflammation and time for recovery.

For most this means avoiding impact exercises like running, burpees, jumping, and lateral movements and strength exercises that load the knee like squats and lunges.

What should you do in place of these exercises? We'll get into that!

2| Warm-up with these exercises

One of the best ways to decrease knee pain and stiffness is to properly warm-up. This can be done before your workout or something that can be done daily.

A great warm-up will:

  • Decrease stiffness at and around the knee

  • Promote blood flow and healing

  • Lubricate the knee and increase its temperature

  • Strengthen the muscles that support your knee

  • Increase overall workout performance 

During your warm-up, our same "if it hurts don't do it" rules apply. 

The warm-up below is specifically designed to reduce knee pain and stiffness by warming it up, improving the flexibility of the muscles that attach to the knee, and activating the muscles that support the knee. 

We want to hit certain muscles that can tug on your knee like your quads (thighs) to loosen up, and certain muscles like your glutes to get stronger to better stabilize the knee. 

Start slow, take your time and complete each exercise below for :30 and hit 2-3 rounds. 

3| Shift your exercise focus for a bit

It is ok to get away from your normal routine for a bit. In fact, your body is most likely craving something new to help you continue to make fitness progress.

With our members dealing with knee pain, we will shift their workout focus for a bit away from lower-body dominant strength and cardio exercises that can place stress on the knees and onto areas like their upper bodies and core.

Try focusing on the lower-body strength exercises like we outline below and work on your upper-body and core.

Some great upper-body and core exercises are front & side planks, push-ups, rows, chin-ups, and dumbbell bench presses!

4| Strengthen your backside

The most important stabilizing muscles of your knee are your hamstrings (back of your leg muscles) and glutes. They work to control your knee, keeping it strong and safe during movements like walking, climbing stairs, running, and exercising. 

The great thing about this is that most hamstring and glute strengthening exercises can be done pain-free. We can shift our focus to target these muscles which are typically weak in most individuals due to inactivity. 

It will allow you to improve overall strength and fitness while bulletproofing those knees. 

Here are a few of our favorite hamstring and glute exercises. We've even included our favorite knee-friendly squat exercise that you're going to love!

5| Do these cardio exercises

Even with knee pain, you can still get into the best shape of your life. Yes you can still get your heart-rate up, burn calories, improve your health and fitness, and lose weight.

For the time being, shift away from high impact cardio exercises like running, sprinting, jumping, and movements that make you work side to side. The great thing though is that with the right plan of action and recovery, you can get back to doing some or all of these exercises.

Focus instead on cardio exercises that are lower impact, keep your feet grounded and stay away from deep knee bends.

Checkout the video below for some ideas.

Is your knee pain holding you back from getting into the best shape of your life?

Our coaches are here to guide and support you 100% of the way!

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