Is it possible to work your training program around a knee injury?

The knee joint is generally stable, but feeling pain in that area can be frustrating and scary. However, unless you have suffered an acute injury or have a chronic knee condition, you don’t always need to run to a doctor when your knee bothers you. Sometimes, you can work around the pain and continue getting stronger and fitter.

You should most definitely get medical treatment if you feel a “pop” or tear in your knee. Another scenario that should send you to the doctor is if you bang your knee or experience a traumatic event, such as a skiing or biking accident. These traumatic injuries will likely cause swelling in the knee, accompanied by pain and heat in the area.

For those that do have frequent pain in the knee, you may be experiencing another classification of injuries, called overuse injuries. Overuse injuries, such as patellar tendinitis, develop over time, usually form overuse. However, you don’t need to see a doctor right away if the pain is bearable. Instead rest, ice, stretching and ibuprofen for 7–10 days. may help. If your pain doesn’t subside by then definitely contact a doctor.

WORKING AROUND THE PAIN.

You should take your knee pain seriously and consider changing your workouts. Medical professionals recommend avoiding anything that causes pain, but it’s also important to keep moving. If running hurts your knees, replace it with a cross trainer or swimming. If tennis is the source of your pain, try cycling…etc, something that reduces the jolting impact on the knee joint.

For weight training, it is suggested to start avoiding squats and lunges (or at least control in a reduced range of motion) if you have pain in the front of your knees (anterior knee pain). That’s because these movements put pressure on the front of your knee joint and work the quad muscle group, at a higher activation rate.

BELOW ARE A FEW MORE IDEAS, THAT I HAVE FOUND HELPFUL IN MY CONTINUED TRAINING EXPERIENCE, TO HELP MANAGE MY KNEE PAIN.

Hamstring issues may be a major player in your knee pain.

STRETCHING AND ROLLING

Stretching is an important part of the recovery process. TIGHT HAMSTRINGS (the muscles that run down the back of your thigh), pull on the knee joint. If they’re too tight you can get pes tendonitis (tendonitis of the hamstring tendons) or pain in the front of your knee. A hamstring stretch, such as a standing or seated toe stretch, should be part of your routine. You can do it either before you exercise or after your workout and even at various times throughout your day.

Your knee pain can also be affected by its surrounding joints and structures. Instead of just looking at what’s going on at the knee, you can assess other joints like the hip and knee.

If your hips are tight, it could be causing your knee pain, and you should focus on stretching your hips. If your lower back or ankles are tight, you should stretch those. A physical therapist can help you figure out what stretches are appropriate.

CROSS-TRAINING

Pay attention to when your knee hurts. Any activity that makes the pain worse should be avoided until your injury is under control. If running hurts, switch to a different activity. If your weight training routine is painful, try something else.

High-impact exercises like running and jumping may exacerbate knee pain. Try to eliminate these exercises first and switch to low-impact exercises. Then, you can begin focusing on exercises that strengthen the muscles around your knees. Muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and hip muscles should be strengthened.

Swimming and Cycling  are two of the best low-impact exercises. Cycling can be done either on a stationary bike or out on the road if you want some fresh air. It’s a particularly useful activity for knee rehab because it’s not weight bearing but you still work the leg muscles.

While swimming isn’t weight bearing, it’s not as tough on the leg muscles as cycling, which means you won’t make your legs much stronger. If you decide to start cycling, make sure you properly adjust your seat before starting. Your knees shouldn’t come up close to your chest as you pedal. If they do, it can be worse for your knee pain.

WEIGHT TRAINING

As noted above, if you have pain in the front of the knee, it’s best to avoid squats and lunges. You can also cut the movement short. Instead of going all the way down just go half way and see if it still bothers your knee. This is a very good way to start re-activating weakened muscles that may be causing the pain, through imbalance.

Your technique during squats, lunges and most lower-body exercises could cause or exacerbate knee pain. A simple tip to alleviate your pain is to shift your weight back from your toes toward your heels as you do lower-body workouts. To get help with this you may need the help of the Personal Trainer at your gym.

There has been many studies published, that found that when weight is shifted forward toward the toes, it increases pressure on the knees. When your weight is in your heels, it decreases pressure and could prevent further damage to the knees.

Squats, deadlifts and even lunges can be performed with your weight in your heels. For squats and deadlifts, pick your toes up slightly off the ground when you go down, and press into your heels as you stand up. For lunges, all the weight in your front leg should be in the heel of the front foot, not the toes.

If you have pain in the back of the knee, avoid hamstring-heavy exercises like deadlifts and single-leg deadlifts. These work the muscles in the back of your leg, which can pull on the sensitive areas.

If problem continue, search out a recommended physiotherapist, many of these professionals specialise their skills to deal with common knee complaints. I had great success with my physio visits.

THE BOTTOM LINE

For every kilogram you weigh, four kilograms goes through your knee every time you step. Keeping a healthy body weight is crucial for knee recovery. Staying active is an important part of knee rehab because it helps you keep off unnecessary weight, as well as keeping range of motion constant through the knee joint. You can also look into changing out your footwear if you feel like it might be causing problems. There is also some evidence to support that this can sometimes be the cause of some knee issues. How ever you choose to deal with your knee pain during training, be sure to make smart and informed decisions, it may really help to get professional guidance to help get you on the right path.