In my job I get lots of excuses as to why people can’t exercise. Often I haven’t actually suggested that they should………….which suggests the people giving said excuses know that they are just that-excuses!
Anyway, one of the most common ones I hear is bad knees. Seriously, from the “I can’t run, cycle, do a Zumba class” to the “I can’t do yoga……..” but you’re able to negotiate a McDonalds drive through………….
I’m not suggesting people don’t legitimately suffer from knee pain, however knee pain does not mean any amount of exercise will cause the knee to smash like glass leaving you unable to walk-in fact it’s quite the opposite!
There are also lots of reasons why someone has knee pain, and often people assume it is an old age thing and its arthritis and they should now stop using it to stop it getting worse.
Firstly, yes it may well be a little stiffer due to arthritic changes as you get older, however one of the best remedies to help deal with the pain, stiffness and inflammation of arthritis is ……………………..exercise! Dammit there goes that excuse!
I have also dealt with over my years as a trainer many clients who have thought they had knee problems due to arthritis etc. and yet after some soft tissue work (massage, foam rolling) and some strength work the knee problem lessens significantly and has often actually disappeared!
You see knee pain can also be caused by tightness, tension or weakness in the muscles surrounding it. The quads and hamstrings all attach above and below the knee and any restriction in those insertions by the knee will undoubtably cause pain in the knee area.
There is also the balance and strength of the hips and feet to take into account. If either of these areas is not functioning as it should it can place extra pressure on the knee giving it essentially a repetitive strain injury.
So, if you have a knee problem of course get it checked out by a Physio, but be suspicious of anyone who tells you to stop using it (literally no science to support this!) and instead find a form of exercise that you can do fairly comfortably and as it gets stronger you will find it is capable of much more with less pain.
A good start if it is really painful is swimming (even walking in a pool), cycling (although make sure the seat is around hip height) and in fact trampolining! These are all fairly low impact that can help you get start moving more pain free.
You should also incorporate some strength work with the guidance of a physio or rehab specialist (I’m one of those!) as the stronger the muscles the better able it is to support the joints.
We are all in this to stay as mobile as possible well in to old age and the saying “use it or lose it” absolutely relates to your body and movement. So, don’t let knee pain become your excuse for shirking exercise-science doesn’t support your excuses.