Fitness Tip of the Week: How to Train Legs with Knee Pain

knee pain

Got cranky knees? Here are four simple tips to help you to build leg muscle, which has been shown to lessen knee pain over time. With a bit of creativity, pain doesn’t have to keep you sedentary. But if an exercise is causing pain, don’t do it.

(These fit tips aren’t meant to diagnose or explain why you have knee pain; they’re simply suggestions for training legs when dealing with knee pain. Always seek medical advice when physical issues occur.)

Tips to Train Legs With Knee Pain

  1. Form is everything: Focus on quality and form over quantity. When you’re performing an exercise incorrectly, you’re undoubtedly going to place stress on your knee joints and cause muscle imbalances.
  2. Avoid these exercises: I’d suggest avoiding plyometrics, downhill running, endurance jogging and walking lunges when you have knee pain.
  3. Build your posterior chain and core: Focus on strength-building and pain-reducing exercises that build your glutes, hamstrings, hips and lower back. Deadlifts, hip thrusts and hamstring curls are some of my go-to exercises for improving the posterior chain. Building a strong core, including your low back and hips, can dramatically lessen pain too. Incorporate movements such as reverse lunges, hip abduction and hip adduction to take the focus off your knee joint and quadriceps (which tend to take over, only adding stress to the knee).
  4. Improve flexibility and foam roll: If you have nagging knee pain, it’s important to utilize a foam roller, especially along the lateral part of your legs (on the side of your legs just above the knee joint up to the hip bone) and hip flexors. Stretching and improving the flexibility of your calves, thighs and quadriceps helps elongate the tight muscles that might be causing or increasing your knee pain.

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