How to Stay Fit with Bad Knees: Low-Impact, Joint-Friendly Exercises

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Knee pain and injuries can plague anyone. Everyone from recreational runners to professional tennis player Rafael Nadal have lodged complaints about this joint aching, creaking, or otherwise acting up. It is a frustrating injury to encounter because it can put you on the sidelines, making you incapable of performing your usual workout routine.

“Because they’re the main hinge between the ground and the rest of your body, the knees serve as your ‘wheels’ that get you around and allow you to be active,” University of Pennsylvania orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Nicholas DiNubile said to WebMD. “Life can really go downhill when you damage your knees.”

He continued: “It’s hard to find the right balance between mobility and stability; the knee needs to move back and forth, twist a little, and pivot too.” Since the knee is constantly practicing this balancing act, a wrong move or too strenuous an activity can cause strains, tears, swelling, or osteoarthritis. After this happens, a person can be left wondering “what now” when it comes to fitness.

But that person shouldn’t sit out just yet. Being overweight increases the risk of knee injury, both first-time time issues and any subsequent pains. With every pound of body weight exerting five pounds of force on the knees, excess weight is also excess force. Charles Bush-Joseph, an orthopedic surgeon at Rush University, told the school’s medical center that people with knee injuries can still exercise and build strength, but they need to know their own limits. Staying active, Bush-Joseph explained, will help control weight and develop muscle, both important components when you want to protect your knees from further injuries.