The knee is the largest joint in the body with many components making it extremely susceptible to a variety of injuries. Knee injuries do not only happen to athletes; in America, there are 14 million individuals who have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. These injuries can be sustained by anyone at any age and develop from a variety of causes. The most common knee injuries include fractures around the knee, dislocation, sprains, and tears of soft tissues, like ligaments. Symptoms of knee injuries include pain & swelling as well as instability. Even though knee injuries are highly common, many myths & unanswered questions surround the injury.
Here we will break down the most commonly asked questions & provide ways to keep your body moving with a knee injury.
Should I exercise with an injured knee?
The most commonly asked question is if it's possible to keep working out with an injured knee. The answer, YES! Of course, if you have knee problems you need to be especially careful when performing weight-bearing exercises or anything that will put a strain on your joints. Research suggests that depending on the severity of your injury it is best to avoid high-impact exercises, but maintain a routine of low-impact upper body & cardio exercises.
What exercises can I do?
Immediately after sustaining an injury, it is important to rest the affected area and speak with your doctor and physical therapist about what exercises work for you. Depending on the severity of your injury there are a variety of exercises they may recommend to keep you fit while not exacerbating your condition. The exercises listed below are a good starting point to keep your body active with a knee injury:
1) Stretching & Warm-Ups
The key to a well-rounded exercise routine always includes a warm-up. This does not change when you sustain a knee injury, rather it becomes more vital to your routine. A good way to warm up is to do some low-impact stretches. A great investment for warming up is a foam roller. Foam rolling is a great way to lessen tension in your lower body and legs. Properly warming up helps prepare you for your workout, gets your heart rate going, and keeps your body flexible!
2) Cardio Exercises
Although it seems difficult to think of doing cardio exercises without straining your knees, there are a variety of cardio activities that are knee-friendly. An effective cardio workout is an activity that increases both your heart and breathing rate. Swimming is the most popular amongst all these. The water keeps your body buoyant while taking the pressure off your legs. Of course, if a pool is not accessible there are a variety of other cardio workouts that can be done. These include activities such as one-legged cycling or using an upper-body ergometer.
3) Upper Body Exercises
When working out with knee pain it is important to make sure you are avoiding things like squats, lunges, leg presses, and running that strain your knees and increase your chances of worsening your knee health. Some upper body exercises that are good to do are crunches, push-ups, ab curs, and a variety of other floor exercises.
Overall, it is definitely possible to keep your body active after sustaining a knee injury. Of course, it is always best to consult with your doctor or physical therapist, but once given the go-ahead, make sure to get your body moving again!