If you live with any type of knee pain, the last thing you want to do is any activity that could potentially hurt your joints. For many people, that fear extends to working out, even though it’s so good for our bodies. Luckily, there are numerous modifications for effective lower body exercises that are not only safe but beneficial for your joint health.
We at Bright Side rounded up the most popular exercises that are usually harmful for your knees and found excellent replacements to take the pressure off your joints.
We also want to remind you that this article is made solely for informational purposes and it’s advised to consult your physician before introducing new exercises to your routine. Stay mindful and healthy.
While running is an excellent exercise for your overall health, experts advise you to avoid it unless you’re a long-time runner and have developed proper form. Still, you don’t have to give it up entirely since there’s an easy modification that lessens the pressure on your joints. Instead of running on concrete, seek out softer surfaces, such as gravel, grass, or dirt.
If running outside isn’t an option for you but you want to fit good cardio into your gym routine, replace a treadmill with an elliptical. The elliptical mimics the same motions as running but is much more gentle on the knees.
2. Glute kickbacks
Kickbacks are an awesome workout to shape your buttocks, but they can be a real killer for your knees. One simple trick to make the exercise pain-free is to use 2 or more mats, or just find a spongy one that would literally “soften the blow” to your knees.
If a softer surface still doesn’t protect you from pain, there’s an advanced modification for glute kickbacks that offers the same result:
- Rest your elbows on a bench or a chair so that your core stays parallel to the floor.
- Lift one leg behind you and bend it at the knee.
- Push back with your heel and feel the burn in your glute muscles.
- Switch legs and repeat.
This might require a bit of an adjustment, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
You can still do lunges, even with vulnerable knees, using just one simple rule: don’t extend your knee past your ankle. Also, make sure you’re stable and engaging your abs. For even more support, hold on to something and keep your core straight.
If your knees are too weak for lunges, there’s a great replacement for this exercise — choose to do bridges instead. They target the same muscles as lunges do, so you won’t be missing out on anything.
- Lie down on the floor with your knees bent.
- Push your heels against the floor as you lift your hips and squeeze your glutes.
- Your shoulders, hips, and knees must be perfectly aligned.
- Hold for 2-3 counts and repeat.
4. Knee push-ups
Many people who are unable to do a full push-up choose to modify the exercise and do it with the support of their knees. Not only is it very harmful to the joints, but it doesn’t do anything good for your body in general. What you can do is use a wall and do a regular push-up while being on the floor. In order to make it effective, position your body at an angle by putting your feet behind you as much as it is comfortable.
Another option would be to use an exercise ball for a decline push-up.
- Place your feet on the ball, one leg at a time, and lean on your extended arms.
- Keep your core straight. Lower your chest and shoulders down to the floor.
- Press yourself back up until your arms are extended once again. Repeat.
5. Jumping jacks
Jumping jacks are considered high-impact for any knees, but there’s an easy way to make the exercise much safer. Instead of jumping out with both of your feet, alternate them by tapping in and out with your left foot and right foot.
A second low-impact replacement would be oblique jacks. Here’s how to do them:
- Stand tall and place your arms at your head level.
- Bend your right knee up and to the side as you crunch your body and bring your right elbow to the knee.
- Jump and switch to the left knee, repeating the same movement.
- Bring your knees as high as possible and don’t forget to lower your elbow. Repeat.
Replace a regular squat by incorporating a wall into your routine. It’s quite simple but effective.
- Push yourself against the wall with your feet at shoulder-width apart. Your heels should be 18 inches away from the wall.
- Squat down, making sure your butt doesn’t go lower than your knees and your knees don’t go past your toes.
- Keep your abs and core engaged and flat against the wall.
- Push back up with your heels and repeat.
If you’re feeling a bit more confident, try a partial squat instead of a deep one. Do everything as you would with a regular squat but keep your body at no more than a 45-degree angle.
Does knee pain get in the way of your workouts? Do you have any other tips that help you stay active without jeopardizing your joints? Share your experience with us!