After suffering from a knee-based injury, you might assume that you can no longer enjoy your workout, run, squat, jump, or lift, all because your joints are too sore. However - that may not be true. In fact, if you have a knee compression sleeve, some guidance from your doctor, and an education regarding the facts of knee related pain, then you should be able to stay relatively active while you recover.
Before we get started addressing some of the most common myths about exercising and knee pain - remember that if you're concerned about an injury to the leg or knee, you should always speak to your GP for advice. Though there are ways to recover from injury in the comfort of your own home, it's important that you know exactly what you're dealing with before you attempt any do-it-yourself treatment solutions.
Now that we've got that out of the way, here are some of the myths about exercise and knee pain that often stilt people's workouts, and how you can overcome them.
Myth #1: You Can't Exercise at All with Knee Pain
If you're suffering from a knee injury, then you'll need to be cautious when engaging in weight-bearing exercises such as Zumba, step-aerobics, running, jumping, and more - as these can all place excessive strain on your painful joint. However, that doesn't mean that you should avoid exercise entirely.
Stick to exercises like swimming, walking, cross-training, and cycling, and you should be absolutely fine. Though the choice of exercise that will work for you will depend on the type of injury you have. Remember, whatever you choose to do, listen to your body and slow down if you need to - don't simply try to push through the pain.
Myth #2: You Need to Rest Until the Pain Disappears
If you enjoy your workout most of the time, then the last thing you want is to be laid up on a couch growing less mobile by the day. When it comes to myths about exercise and knee pain - the idea that you should keep yourself off your feet until the pain diminishes is one of the worst culprits. Usually, it's entirely possible to exercise the knee with care to help promote faster recovery.
Speak to your doctor for details regarding your specific circumstances, but in most situations, you'll find that so long as you rest for the first 48 to 72 hours, then you should be able to take part in gentle mobilization activities shortly after.
Myth 3: Exercise is Impossible with Arthritic Knees
For some time now, doctors and nurses have recommended that patients rest their knees regularly if they suffer from osteoarthritis. However, we are now learning that gentle and careful exercise might be a good treatment solution for those who suffer with limited motion in their joints.
Though the details will vary according to your specific circumstances, most people with osteoarthritis find that it is perfectly fine to exercise. In fact, according to a report by the American College of Sports Medicine, there is some evidence that exercise might actually be good for osteoarthritic knees, because the movement helps to improve the development of cartilage between the joints.
Myth 4: You Should Never Squat
Jumping is never recommended for people who suffer from knee related problems, and it's even one of the tests that sports physiotherapists use to determine how fit an athlete is after a knee injury. However, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy your workout in other ways. Because jumping and other exercises might go out of the window, many people assume that squats - which utilize the bending of the knees - are impossible too. However, that absolutely is not true.
Squatting can actually be good for the knee is it encourages bending - which is the primary purpose of the knee. If you're in pain, you can always do a smaller squat, or use a Swiss ball for help - but that doesn't mean that you should avoid the action altogether.
How to Stay Strong with Painful Knees
Now that we've covered some of the most common myths about exercise and knee pain, it's time to strap on your knee compression sleeve and start working on strengthening the muscles around the joint - so that you have less risk of injury and discomfort in the future. Strengthening your knees will help you to enjoy your workout by improving your range of motion, and lowering your pain levels during exercise. Start with this simple routine:
Step 1: Knee Flexion Exercises
Lie with your face pointing to the floor, and bend your knee inwards, so that your heel rests near your bottom. You should feel the quadriceps muscles in your legs stretching at the front of your thigh. Repeat this exercise ten times, using your knee compression sleeve, and perform it three times a day to improve mobility in the joint.
Step 2: Half Squats
Put a yoga ball or Swiss ball against the wall behind your lower back, placing your feet about a shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees into a half squat, keeping the middle of your knee cap in line with the toes of your foot, then rise back into the starting position. Repeat this exercise ten times, twice a day to strengthen the muscles around your knee.
Step 3: Knee Extensions
Finally, sit down on a comfortable chair with a towel rolled up and placed beneath your thigh. Squeeze your toes inwards and pull them upwards, while tightening the quadriceps muscles in your legs, before slowly pulling the entire limb out straight. You should feel a small stretch in the back of your thigh, as well as some contraction in the quadriceps. Hold your position for fifteen seconds, and repeat around three times, twice a day. Eventually, you should find that you have less problems with tightness around your knee joint - making it easier to exercise and enjoy your workout.