Advertisement

How can I keep my knees healthy as I exercise?

Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Hip, ankle, leg, and butt weakness can all manifest as knee pain. To protect these innocent bystanders from further stress during exercises, make sure your knee is always positioned directly above your ankle. This minimizes the stress placed across the front of your kneecap and puts your leg in a more mechanically stable position. Check your look in the mirror if you need to.
Dr. Vonda Wright's Guide to Thrive: 4 Steps to Body, Brains, and Bliss

More About this Book

Dr. Vonda Wright's Guide to Thrive: 4 Steps to Body, Brains, and Bliss

Dr. Wright unfolds her Guide to Thrive by preparing readers for six remarkable months of body, brains, and bliss transformation, using her framework of the four practical steps. As a scientist and...
Eric Olsen
Fitness

Here are some basic principles to help you keep your knees healthy:

  • Apply the 10-percent-per-week principle during periods of increasing effort. That is, don't increase time, distance, or intensity more than 10 percent per week. Also, if you make any changes in your routine, for example, changing your walking or jogging routine, taking a new route over an unfamiliar surface, or buying a new pair of shoes, you should reduce your mileage slightly for a few days. If you have to lay off for a few days due to a cold or other reasons, you'll lose about 3 percent of your conditioning every day that you don't exercise, so make appropriate cutbacks in your mileage when you resume training.
  • Apply the hard/easy principle to your training. Sufficient rest is an important part of appropriate training for the knees; fatigued muscles can't stabilize the knee and keep the patella tracking properly. If you are troubled by misalignment of the knees due to overpronation or other causes, adequate rest is particularly important. 
  • Use cross-training that includes walking, running, cycling, or swimming, all of which help build or maintain aerobic fitness while strengthening the muscles that protect the knees. If you cycle, though, be sure your bike fits properly; the seat should be high enough that the leg is almost extended when the pedal is down. Pedaling while sitting on a seat that's too low can actually aggravate knee problems. 
  • Worn shoes, which often exaggerate any inherent misalignment, can be the culprit in knee pain. Keep shoes in good repair. It's wise to have two or more pairs of your favorite shoes and alternate them to spread the wear over a longer period.
Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

More About this Book

Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...

Knee injuries account for approximately $2.5 billion dollars annually, so prevention is vital. The best way to keep your knees healthy and avoid cumulative trauma is to develop proper joint movement and muscle length. This can be accomplished by following a structured flexibility program and strengthening program. Stretching and strengthening should target the muscles and joints above and below the knee joint, including the hip muscles. Developing optimal control of these muscles will keep the knee in proper alignment during motion and prevent cumulative injury.  

To keep your knees healthy when you exercise, there are a few general rules to follow. Maintaining the strength of the thighs helps support the knee joint and properly align the kneecap. Additionally, avoiding deep squats in which the knee extends beyond the toes will prevent excessive strain on the knee joint. Lastly, the knee is a major weight-bearing joint in the body. Excess body weight and pounding exercises such as running will cause more stress than the knee is designed to manage. Keep a healthy weight and be sure to integrate non-weight-bearing exercises into your routine.

Continue Learning about Avoiding Pain & Injury During Exercise

Why Fitness Newbies Should Avoid Intense Workouts
Why Fitness Newbies Should Avoid Intense Workouts
Insanity! Burnout! Super revved-up workouts are all the rage at gyms and online. One big trend: high-intensity sprint training. Long-favored by Specia...
Read More
How can I avoid cycling injuries?
Dr. Vonda Wright, MDDr. Vonda Wright, MD
An important way to avoid cycling injuries is to get your bike fitted to your body at a reputable bi...
More Answers
Why should I stretch both sides of my body if I only have pain on one side?
Grant Cooper, MDGrant Cooper, MD
If you only stretch the right side of your body because that's the side that is painful, your left s...
More Answers
To Prevent Running Injuries, Start With Your Big Toe
To Prevent Running Injuries, Start With Your Big Toe

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.