There’s no gentle way to say this – training with injuries SUCKS!
Unfortunately, that nagging shoulder pain or swelling in your knee will only get worse if you don’t give it the rest that it needs.
But it’s tough. . .
You’ve been training hard, seeing great results, and you don’t want to stop now because of a little “pain”. Below are a few suggestions to keep you training while at the same time allowing you to take care of what ails you.
Now, it should go without saying, the best way to handle an injury is to prevent it in the first place by always starting out with a dynamic warm-up.
But that doesn’t put the toothpaste back in the tube now, does it?
So let’s get into what you should do you if have an injury and are deciding if you should work out.
If you’re worried about hurting yourself while lifting, I would encourage you to check out our guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. We cover all you need to begin a strength training practice, from equipment, starting weight recommendations, and proper form techniques to prevent injuries. You can grab it for free when you join the Rebellion below!
Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!
- Everything you need to know about getting strong.
- Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
- How to find the right gym and train properly in one.
Alright, before I get into the training with specific injuries, there are a few general tips I give no matter what.
- Test ALL movements After an Injury
- If You have an Injury, Should You Rest?
- Find the opportunities to Train in Other Areas.
- TRAINING WITH Lower back PAIN
- TRAINING WITH AN INJURED Wrist
- HOW DO I TRAIN WITH A Knee INJURY?
- CAN I LIFT WITH A HURT Elbow?
- HOW CAN I EXERCISE WITH An INJURED Ankle?
- WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH Shoulder and hip PAIN?
- MOVING FORWARD WITH AN INJURY
- Exercising With Knee Pain
- How to Work Out With a Knee Injury
- The Best Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees
- More Articles
- Rehabilitation Purpose
- Quad Builder
- Different Bike, Different Ride
- Use Good Form
- Duration and Intensity
- When to Stop
- Exercise Bikes for Knee Rehabilitation
- Best Stationary Bikes for Bad Knees
- Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike for Arthritic Knees
- Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Bike for Knee Pain
- Marcy NS-716R Exercise Bike for knee rehabilitation
- Marcy ME-709 Recumbent Exercise Bike Review
- What to Look for when Buying an Exercise Bike for Bad Knees
- Adjustability of the saddle
- Durability and Stability
- Health and Weight capacity
- Comfort and Convenience
- Exercise Equipment For Bad Knees
- What to Do If Working Out Is Killing Your Knees
- Easy Exercises for Knee Arthritis
- 1. Your Alignment In Basic Moves Is Wrong
- 2. You’re Loading The Wrong Muscles
- 3. You’re Wearing The Wrong Shoes
- 4. You’re Not Working On Stability & Mobility
- 5. You’re Going Too Heavy Too Soon
- 6. You Never Do Single Leg Exercises
- 7. Your Running Form On The Treadmill is Off
- 8. You’re Neglecting Your Core
- 9. You’re Not Stretching
Test ALL movements After an Injury
First, test all movements.
And by test, I mean work through as much of the range of motion of an exercise as possible with zero additional resistance and without feeling any pain.
That means if your shoulder bothers you, just see if you can extend your arms all the way above your head without holding a barbell before you even consider doing a push press or shoulder press.
After that, make sure to test movements that you don’t suspect will be a problem. A shoulder injury could very well make box jump sessions impossible due to the arm swing involved in the movement. Try out each movement cautiously!
Something to keep in mind: just because you have pain with a push movement, does not necessarily mean you will have pain with a pull.
I have had a shoulder injury where dips and push-ups were out of the question, but pull-ups were fine. And that is why you should test all movements – you may have more training options than you expect. Then again, your injury may limit movement more than you realize.
Last time I’m going to say it – test.
If You have an Injury, Should You Rest?
Next, rest. And by rest, I mean completely stop doing movements that cause you pain until you are healed.
If you feel any pain during your test mentioned above (especially joint pain) then you should abandon that movement until the injury heals.
You cannot “suck it up” and just grind through joint pain without hindering healing at best and causing further damage at worst.
Along with rest, a recovery regimen to accelerate healing should be considered. Ideally, this would be done under the care of a physician. I have been to the doc for injuries in the past and have found that those that use “Sports” in the title of their practice (Sports Medicine, Sports Therapy) do their damnedest to keep you active.
Two often overlooked components of recovery that can be controlled even if you do not seek medical care are sleep and nutrition.
These things are always important when it comes to fitness, but for the swiftest recovery from injury you need to get your food intake and sleep schedule dialed in extra tight. Sign off of Fortnite an hour earlier and get to bed (Life is cruel). Have a second helping of spinach and forgo the pizza. If you want to do everything within your control to sway the healing forces in your favor, be extra diligent with your sleep and eats.
If you need help switching up your nutrition, we got you. We offer a 1-on-1 private Online Coaching Program designed to help busy people like you level up their lives. We can help you move to a healthy way of eating, by slowly making small recommendations that stick. And if you’re worried about future injuries from strength training, we offer form checks to help make sure you don’t hurt yourself while you’re getting stronger.
Want to see if we are a good fit for each other? Click on the big image below to learn more:
Find the opportunities to Train in Other Areas.
My dear friend, it’s time to get creative.
When you get injured, start thinking outside of the box to find the opportunity in the obstacle.
A shoulder injury may make back squats incredibly painful, but holding the bar for a front squat instead could feel fine, and perhaps it just so happens that you have neglected the front squat lately.
So instead, try to look at an injury as an opportunity for you to focus on a weakness. Strengthen your weaknesses, become more well rounded and better equipped to deal with rigorous activity.
But enough of the generalities.
You want some specific recommendations on how to train around your injuries. . . Here are some tips that have worked for me and other Rebels, to keep you training despite injuries:
TRAINING WITH Lower back PAIN
Forgo any spinal loading. Period.
That means no squats for sure.
But it also means no deadlifts.
It also means using no additional resistance in any movement where your shoulders should be higher than your hips.
That pretty much limits you to the bench press as far as free weights go, which you’re gonna want to make sure you do correctly.
You could also spend your recovery time exploring various bodyweight exercises.
TRAINING WITH AN INJURED Wrist
Wrist pain is most commonly complained about when doing the traditional push-up.
You might be able to alleviate this pain by using push up bars and even (believe it or not) knuckle push-ups. This is because you might be dealing with a flexibility issue and not an actual injury.
Front squats and power cleans done with the Olympic rack position may also lead to complaints of wrist pain.
To eliminate wrist pain in the front squat, try the more common crossed-arm rack position. For the power clean, concentrate on getting the bar on top of the front of your front deltoids (shoulders) – if the bar is touching your throat, you are getting there.
HOW DO I TRAIN WITH A Knee INJURY?
Knee pain typically comes in a fitness setting as the result of one of two things: deep bending such as with a squat or lunge, or impact that corresponds with landing from jumping. Lateral (side to side) movement may also be an issue especially for participants of sports like soccer, rugby, basketball, and other “man to man” athletics.
Knee issues can be especially frustrating for those trying to lose weight because exercises involving squatting, lunging, and jumping are ideal for accelerating fat loss.
In this situation, I typically recommend a kettlebell swing as my first alternative option. A properly executed swing does not involve much bend of the knee and in my experience, most people who cannot squat can handle swings without screwing up any preexisting knee conditions.
If you’re trying to lose weight, another option you could try is boxing drills. However, it is important to work slowly at first to be sure that the twisting necessary for generating punching power from the hips does not aggravate the knee condition.
CAN I LIFT WITH A HURT Elbow?
You’re out of luck on this one, unfortunately. Sorry.
Nearly any upper body exercise, push or pull, will hinder your recovery time.
Instead, focus on lower body work such as barbell squats, lunges, and sprinting.
HOW CAN I EXERCISE WITH An INJURED Ankle?
Avoid any high-impact movements.
And all that means is do not jump.
But other movements that involve more subtle ankle movement such as squats may also have to be put on the back burner as you heal. It is possible (likely?) that you may have to focus on upper body movements and use seated versions of movements such as rows and overhead presses instead of standing.
This will help let your ankle heal.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH Shoulder and hip PAIN?
Test, test, test.
These ball and socket joints can be the most unpredictable when it comes to training options.
Start slow, start light, and back off the second you feel any pain.
MOVING FORWARD WITH AN INJURY
Injuries are always frustrating when they happen.
But I don’t know anyone with any significant amount of training time under their belt who hasn’t had to deal with one.
- Seek a medical opinion
- Be smart with your exercise selection
- Dial in your nutrition and sleep
- Be aware of training opportunities that you would not have considered without the injury
Alright, I think that about does it for today’s articles.
Now, I want to hear from you!
Do you have an injury that is preventing you from training?
Do you have any tips and tricks to keep moving while still recovering?
Did you seek advice from a doctor who gave you good information?
Let us know in the comments!
PS: I’ll end this article with a reminder of our Online Coaching Program. If you want advice on proper form technique, we have a super sweet app that will show your coach exactly how you’re training. They can then offer specific advice to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. .
All photo sources can be found right here.
Exercising With Knee Pain
If you have knee pain, exercising may be the last thing on your mind. And you’re not alone — in fact, only 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women with knee osteoarthritis get the minimum recommended amount of weekly exercise, experts say. But exercising could be the best thing you can do for your knees.
“Exercise is good therapy for knee pain, but it needs to be the right kind of exercise,” says Steven Stuchin, MD, director of orthopedic surgery at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. Pounding your knees with high-impact exercise or overdoing it during workouts could make your knee pain worse. But it’s easy to avoid problems by following these dos and don’ts for exercising with knee pain.
Do exercise in the water. If you’re worried that exercising will be too hard on your knees, try exercising in water first. “Water’s buoyancy will take the load off your knees, allowing you to exercise with less pain and stress on your joints,” says Dr. Stuchin.
Don’t participate in high-impact activities. Basketball, tennis, racquetball, squash, soccer, and football are hard on the knees because they involve sudden starts, stops, and turns, as well as jumping (and landing). Avoid any type of exercise that involves jumping if you have knee pain, recommends Stuchin.
Do walk. Moderate walking is recommended for people with knee pain because it’s a low-impact activity. If your joints are painful and stiff, start slowly and work up to 20 minutes of walking per day, recommends Stuchin. Plus, daily walking will help with weight loss — another bonus since carrying extra weight puts stress on the knees.
Don’t exercise on hard surfaces. “Walking or running on concrete or asphalt is a bad idea when you suffer from knee pain because these surfaces have no shock absorption,” says Glenn Gaesser, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Dr. Gaesser recommends dirt paths — grass is another good option because it absorbs shock, but it tends to be bumpy and uneven. If grass and dirt don’t sound appealing, take your walk indoors. “Treadmills have the most consistent surfaces and pretty good shock absorption,” says Gaesser.
Do use knee-friendly exercise equipment. Stationary bikes and elliptical machines (a cross between a stair-climber and bicycle) allow you to get a good aerobic workout without stressing your knee joints. “Recumbent stationary bikes are even better because you’re not sitting upright while exercising, which takes more weight off the knee joints,” says Gaesser.
Don’t bend the knees excessively. Avoid doing full squats and leg presses. These strength-training routines often require bending the knees beyond 90 degrees, which puts excessive pressure and strain on the knees, says Stuchin.
Do strengthen muscles. “Like a natural knee brace, stronger muscles will help compensate for weak or injured tendons, ligaments, and joints,” says Stuchin. The quadriceps and hamstrings are the two main muscle groups that support the knee. Do straight leg raises to strengthen the quadriceps and walk backward to help strengthen the hamstrings.
Don’t overdo it. When muscles are fatigued, they can’t absorb as much shock, says Stuchin, which places extra stress on the knees. Start your exercise program slowly and make sure to switch up your exercises every day to help avoid overuse injuries like tendinitis. Consider alternating walking and swimming, for example.
Do warm up and stretch. “Warm, flexible muscles aren’t injured as easily,” says Gaesser. Take a few minutes to stretch the quadriceps and hamstrings before your workout. Then start with five minutes of slow walking before getting into the pool or pedaling on the stationary bike. This will also get your heart rate and breathing revved up slowly, which is beneficial for overall fitness.
Although knee pain may present some exercise barriers, many kinds of exercise are easy on the joints and will make your knees feel better, not worse. “Most people with arthritis and other kinds of knee pain don’t get enough exercise,” says Stuchin. “Exercising regularly can help ease knee pain, improve joint function, and improve overall health.” If you aren’t sure what kind of exercising you should do for your specific knee pain, consult your doctor or work with a physical therapist.
How to Work Out With a Knee Injury
If you run, play sports, lift weights or age — so, that’s everyone — chances are high you’ll sustain a knee injury. It’s one of the most common ailments for the young and the old. In fact, about 2.5 million adolescent athletes visit the ER each year for knee injuries, according to the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. Age-related injuries take their toll as well, with 14 million Americans suffering from symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.
The good news is it’s possible to keep exercising with a faulty knee. The first thing to know: Listen to your doctor. If she recommends you stay off your feet for awhile, then don’t push it, or you may cause further damage. Of course, not all injuries are the same. Rehabbing from a fracture or dislocation is different than rehabbing from a ligament tear.
Once you’ve been cleared to exercise, there are several moves and modifications to keep you mobile as you work your way back to 100%. Here are five:
STRETCH AND FOAM ROLL
“I’ve torn a meniscus and suffered other knee injuries, and I always start small when I return to exercise,” says Matthew Martin, certified personal trainer. “Stretching and foam rolling are both great ways to loosen up those unused muscles, especially if you’ve been in a cast or on crutches. Pay special attention to the quad, hamstring and IT band,” and you’ll prime your knee for movement and weight-bearing activities.
HOP ON THE BIKE
Cycling is a great, low-impact form of cardio that can strengthen muscles and lubricate joints, and it’s a common activity in all manner of rehab programs. The Arthritis Foundation recommends cycling for osteoarthritis sufferers and mentions recumbent bikes can be a good option if you require more support. One thing to avoid in the short term, however, is hills, as climbing puts extra stress on your knees.
STICK TO UPPER-BODY EXERCISES
“Knee injuries obviously limit what you can do at the gym, but there are still tons of exercises available to you,” says Martin. “Usually I will focus on the upper body, especially seated and supine work. You can work your chest, arms, back and more with dumbbells and machines, all without putting pressure on the knees.” Martin specifically mentions the dumbbell press, shoulder press, lat pulldowns and biceps curls as possibilities. “Ideally you want everything in balance, but you don’t have to neglect your whole body just because your knee is injured,” he adds.
If you’re ready to begin some leg exercises, he suggests starting slow and light with a mentality of “safety first.” Seated straight-leg raises, calf raises, bodyweight lunges and squats are all great, if you’re able to do them. To regain some stability in the knee, he likes standing on the round side of a BOSU ball to work on balance.
SLOWLY BUILD UP MILEAGE
If you’re a runner, too many days off can seem like torture. But you can’t expect to pick right back up where you left off. If you’ve been cleared to run, there’s a program to help you get started. According to running coach Jack Daniels, author of “Daniels’ Running Formula,” you can do some easy math to determine where to start.
He says if you’ve missed up to four weeks, you should spend your first two weeks back training at 50% your normal volume, and the next two training at 75% normal volume. If you missed more than eight weeks, you’ll need to take it even slower. In that case, he says to start at 1/3 your normal volume before moving to 1/2 and then 3/4. Doing so can help you get your fitness back and keep you from re-injuring your knee.
According to the University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, “Exercising in water is a gentle way to exercise joints and muscles. The buoyancy of the water supports and lessens stress on the joints and encourages freer movement.” Depending on the severity of your knee injury, you may not be able to kick, which makes swimming difficult. But if you can swim without risking further injury, it’s a great way to get some cardio while strengthening your muscles in a low-impact setting.
The Best Cardio Exercises for Bad Knees
by: Shannon Beineke & Vanessa Sofia
Cardiovascular exercises are essential to any fitness regimen, but they can be painful for bad knees. Only certain knee workouts are safe and effective for knees in need of some extra TLC. Your capabilities will depend on your injury, but the following knee exercises can often be done with ease. Check with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any “bad-knee” workout and follow a recovery regimen after strenuous activity.
Works: Glutes, hamstrings, quads
- Standing in front of a staircase, place one foot flat on the bottom step. (You also can use a step bench.)
- Make sure your entire foot is on the step and your knee is directly above your ankle.
- Putting your weight on the heel of your elevated foot, step onto the foot, lift the opposite foot and tap the step and the floor.
- Switch when you’ve completed at least ten reps.
To make this workout even more effective, do curls with light weights each time you step up. Our Neoprene Hand Weights are a great way to intensify these step-ups by adding resistance without putting tension on your knees. You can control the amount of resistance by selecting the weight that is best to meet your goal.
Works: Knees, quads
Although full squats aren’t recommended for those with tender knees, partial squats are a great exercise to build strength while protecting the joints.
- Start by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward.
- Flex your abs while lowering your upper body as low as is comfortable. Your knees should remain behind your toes throughout the exercise.
Find a good knee support product before attempting this exercise, and it’s always best to work out with a buddy.
Works: Lower-leg muscles
Also known as “toe raises.”
- Stand up straight with the front of your feet on a flat surface.
- With toes pointed forward, keep your ankles, hips, and shoulders in alignment.
- Lift your heels very slowly, then lower them at the same speed.
The slower you raise and lower your body, the better the workout. Start with 25 reps.
For a deeper stretch, use a foot and calf stretcher to maximize your workout.
Works: Abs, hip flexors, thighs
- Lie flat on your back with your legs together and arms by your side.
- With your forearms on the ground, lift your legs six inches and your shoulders one inch.
- Holding that position, spread your legs apart, bring them back toward each other, then cross one leg over the other.
This is one rep. Start by doing a set of 50 reps. Don’t let your legs or shoulders rest on the floor during the set. For a better grip, use a yoga mat to ensure proper technique.
Works: Upper, mid and lower body
Swimming is one of the best exercises for people with bad knees. It’s low impact and versatile, and it burns calories quickly. Proper form is crucial, especially while kicking.
The knees should not be tensed. Techniques that put stress on the knees (e.g., the frog kick) should be avoided. Also, avoid the traditional pre-lap push off the wall.
Works: Upper, mid and lower body muscles
Running and jogging put stress on bad knees, but speed walking is low impact and great exercise for the whole body. Beginners should stick to flat, smooth surfaces. After your walking muscles are strengthened, you may even be able to take low-impact hikes.
Cardio exercise for bad knees doesn’t have to cause even more knee pain.
Low-impact cardio ideas
While cardio is important to achieve your fitness goals, it can be hard on your body. Over time, high-impact cardio, like running, can give way to muscle and joint injuries. To minimize the risk of injury, try different methods of low-impact cardio. Here are five low-impact cardio activities that will give you the results you want, while taking it easy on your body.
Take a dance class
Whether it is ballet, tap, salsa, or modern, dance classes are wonderful low-impact cardio activities that keep your heart rate up for long periods of time. By requiring you to warm up first and stretch your muscles throughout the class, dance classes are a great way to get in shape.
Use the elliptical instead of the treadmill
You will burn roughly the same amount of calories using an elliptical trainer as you would on a treadmill. Plus, your feet never leave the pedals, so there is less chance of injuring your knees, back, neck, or hips. This is an exercise that your body will thank you for, as it is essentially running without the impact.
Dust off your bike
Grab your bike out of the garage and go for a bike ride. If you don’t have one, you can use the stationary bike at your gym. Cycling will build your endurance and, depending on how fast you go, will burn between 250-500 calories in 30 minutes. If you are cycling indoors, using the traditional stationary bike instead of the sitting stationary bike will burn more calories, as sitting upright engages more muscles.
Walk it out
Going for a good old-fashioned walk has numerous health benefits and is a classic form of low-impact cardio. Make sure to stretch first, wear supportive footwear and keep your pace brisk to get the maximum results from this low-impact exercise. To further reduce the impact of any cardio, Gaiam also provides products such as a foot massager to assist in your post-walk recovery.
Finding the right kind of cardio for you is important. You can be challenged and stimulated without hurting yourself or taking your body beyond its natural limits. Try switching back and forth between these low-impact cardio exercises throughout the week to keep your muscles engaged and your workout routine challenging.
Your knee isn’t just the largest joint in your body — it’s also quite complex, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. As a result, it’s very susceptible to injury, many of which can be treated non-surgically. Rehabilitation from a knee injury may include the standard RICE approach — rest, ice, compression and elevation. Exercise, including cycling on a stationary bike, can also potentially provide relief and prevent further injury. Consult your doctor, however, before beginning this or any exercise regimen.
When you suffer a knee injury the muscles, tendons and ligaments become weak and the joint gets unstable. Rehabilitative exercises strengthen the muscles and joint structures that support the knee, improve stability and increases flexibility and range of motion, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
According to Robert Klapper and Lynda Huey, authors of “Heal Your Knees,” a bicycle program nurtures weight-bearing joints such as the knees. Also, because a cycling motion involves only the hinge joint part of the knee’s function, it doesn’t put any potentially damaging rotational torque on your knees, they explain. Also, biking on a stationary or regular bike builds up the quadriceps muscles, the primary protectors of your knees.
Different Bike, Different Ride
As Klapper and Huey point out, athletes or former athletes are more likely to favor upright bikes. But, if you’re older or have a back problem, a recumbent or reclining bike may be more suitable for you to use during your knee rehab. They recommend trying out both types of bikes to determine which feels better and which you find more effective for your knee.
Use Good Form
Setting the seat height is the most critical consideration when using a stationary bike to rehabilitate your knee. Your seat should be set at a height that allows you to keep your knee almost straight at the bottom pedal position. If your knee straightens fully or bends more than a few degrees, adjust your seat. Klapper and Huey also recommend that the seat be flat rather than tilting upward or downward and that you keep your knees and feet pointing straight ahead.
Duration and Intensity
The AAOS recommends cycling for 10 minutes a day at light resistance at the beginning of your rehabilitation. Add an extra minute each day until you’re cycling 20 minutes daily. As your knee becomes stronger, gradually increase the resistance as well.
When to Stop
If at any time your pain or any other symptoms become worse, stop cycling and notify your doctor or physiotherapist. According to Brian Halpern, a sports medicine physician and author of “The Knee Crisis Handbook,” a recumbent bike may take some of the pressure off your knees during cycling. Or, he recommends using a bicycler ergometer, which allows you to use your arms to turn the pedals of a stationary bike.
Exercise Bikes for Knee Rehabilitation
Exercise bikes or stationary cycles are found in virtually every physiotherapy clinic, gym or health club across the world. Many knee rehabilitation protocols include cycling. So why is stationary bike riding so popular for knee rehabilitation?
Firstly, we need to consider what the goals of using an exercise bike would be:
- increase or restore knee joint range of movement
- increase or restore knee joint stability
- increase or restore the strength of muscles around the knee
- decrease or eliminate pain
- prevent reoccurrence of the injury
In comparison with other exercises, cycling is a relatively ‘knee friendly’ activity that can help to improve knee joint mobility and stability. Cycling is frequently used as a rehabilitation exercise modality after knee injury or surgery as well as part of the management of chronic degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis. The bicycle has a number of features that make it a particularly good tool for knee rehabilitation:
- Non weight-bearing
- Low impact
- Uses a range of motion that is needed for most activities of daily living
- Controlled movement
- Variable resistance
- Stable position
- Cyclic movement nourishes joint cartilage
- Closed kinetic chain exercise
- Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise activity
All of the major muscles of the legs are used at one point or another during cycling, but the major muscles that are used for generating power are the quadriceps group, especially the quadriceps muscle rectus femoris (see diagram).
During the pedal cycle, the quadriceps mainly work as you push the pedal down and straighten your leg whilst the hamstrings at the back of thigh work to bend the knee. The amount the hamstrings work varies – if you are using pedals where your feet go under a strap your hamstrings work more as you can use them to pull the pedal up using the strap. By using cycling within the rehabilitation program the quadriceps can be strengthened whilst controlling the amount of stresses to the knee.
Knees like cyclical movement without excessive forces as that is the way that the articular cartilage covering the ends of your bones gets nourished.
Cycling has been shown to be a relatively safe activity for rehabilitation after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction as the strain that is placed on the ACL during cycling at rehabilitation levels is relatively low.
With the bike correctly set up during one complete turn of the pedal your knee travels from 30 to approximately 110 degrees of flexion. Before you can start to include stationary cycling in your knee rehabilitation you should have a minimum of 100 degrees of knee flexion so that you can complete one full turn of the pedals.
Check out our range of exercise bikes for knee rehabilitation here.
Best Stationary Bikes for Bad Knees
If you are facing some kind of knee problems, then this article is for you. I will go through the best exercise bike for bad knees, along with specific exercises, and other fixes that can help you.
Using a Stationary Bike to improve knee health is one of the safest and most effective ways to address this issue, as long as you do it the right way.
Among all types of exercise bikes, the recumbent bike is considered as the best choice for knee rehabilitation, due to the position causing low amounts of stress on the knee joint.
Join me on this little trip and face the common problem that afflicts millions.
Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike for Arthritic Knees
First, we will address the Schwinn 270. This one is the most equipped from the list, with Bluetooth capability and a nice screen, along with sturdier overall construction.
This is also the most expensive on the list because of all the extra functions and high-technology features.it comes with a heart rate monitor, a 3-speed fan, this stationary bike comes with a lot of perks, at a price.
Things we like
- Great Bike with a lot of functions and perks, one of those things you don’t really feel like downgrading from.
- Quite comfortable.
- 325 lbs weight capacity
- Considered as the best in the list
Things we don’t like
- Even if it worths the price, this machine still expensive for many people
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Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Bike for Knee Pain
The second on the list and quite a different one, the Exerpeutic 400XL is quite unique because you can fold it for storage, making it quite convenient. But this also comes with some disadvantages; resistance is set manually, which can be uncomfortable for some, the computer works on batteries instead of a wall adapter. Note that the bike can work without the LCD display.
Things we like
- Convenient as it gets. The folding feature just saves so much space and is perfect for those that live in apartments or don’t have the room to place a full-size bike.
- The most practical on the list
- Price is quite accessible.
Things we don’t like
- Manual setups for some functions.
- Pedals are actually shorter than other, the seat can be a bit small for bigger individuals.
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Marcy NS-716R Exercise Bike for knee rehabilitation
The third one is a good one for beginners, I would recommend this kind of bikes for most people that are just starting. A lot of people tend to stop using the machines so this one brings a great price and fine quality into the table, making it a popular choice. This one works with batteries as well and it’s quite simple, gets the job done.
Things we like
- Price VS Quality, this one may not be as fancy as the Schwinn 270 we reviewed before, but it gets the job done quite comfortable, for a great price.
- Being even less than a third of the price compared to the Schwinn.
- The magnetic resistance is pretty good and you can adjust almost anything.
- Wheels are comfortable for placing or moving as well.
- Has a cup holder.
- In the end, you get more than you paid for.
Things we don’t like
- Doesn’t have a pulse sensor.
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Marcy ME-709 Recumbent Exercise Bike Review
For the last one, we have another Marcy bike, again with a great price for what you get and very beginner friendly. it is quite similar to the bike above but this has a wider range of seat adjustability, but at the same, the minimum range is higher than the maximum range of the last one. So pick carefully between this 2, you will have to know what kind of range you are looking for based on your height.
Things we like
- Similar to the pros in the NS-716R, I don’t think you will find a better “bang for your buck”.
- Higher adjustable length limits, so it fits both tall and short people
- affordable price
Things we don’t like
- Small screen
- doesn’t have a cup holder
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What to Look for when Buying an Exercise Bike for Bad Knees
Now you might be asking yourself, “Okay, nice products, but, what is best for me?”. Well, what is best for each of us depends on individual characteristics, situation and needs.
Stationary bikes are great exercises for inactive people or those that suffer from arthritis or injuries in the knee joint. You should look at yourself before choosing a bike, and these are the points you should look out for.
Adjustability of the saddle
I cannot express how important this is; before buying a stationary bike, make sure that the range of motion that it can support fits you and your needs, see the length of the pedals, how far the seat can go, and all the dimensions before making a purchase.
Durability and Stability
Don’t buy something that will break in a month, buy a quality product that can last you a lifetime if taken care of properly. Quality will always beat the price, and some of these bikes are not even that pricey, which takes us to the next point.
Buy what fits you, but don’t break your bank for it, I always recommend beginners to buy a simple bike to start, then if you are gonna do it on a daily basis for the next years, you can invest in something more fancy and expensive. Sure if you have the money, you can buy whatever you want, just don’t overpay for something that is not even that good.
Health and Weight capacity
Here is a tricky one; you may find yourself with some kind of knee joint issues or bad health, in this case, resistance becomes less important, and you have to rehabilitate with the range of motion provided by the bike. Also if you are overweight, take into account that the stationary bikes mentioned above can support 300 lbs or 325 lbs, something to take into account.
Comfort and Convenience
This depends a lot on what kind of room you have for your bike, the folding bike is quite amazing for smaller places but has a limited range of motion, you should consider all this before buying.
Now you should have all the information to start looking for a change in life and the best exercise bike for bad knees, exercising is never bad but at the beginning, it can be quite tricky, overweight people without the muscle strength shouldn’t be doing the same exercises as an athletic or average people. Please don’t go jogging or running with knee pain, jogging is the bane of knee health.
Think you can’t get in a killer cardio or leg workout just because you’ve got bad knees? It’s not “game over” yet – there are plenty of awesome, fat-torching exercises you can do while keeping your knees in tip-top shape.
Keep in mind that knee pain is usually due to your kneecap going out of alignment, which then causes the surrounding muscles and ligaments to weaken and stiff. If you’re dealing with bad knees and still want a good workout, focus on low-impact workouts that strengthen and gently stretch the surrounding muscles, such as Romanian Deadlifts or a good Spin bike workout.
We’ve listed some of the best knee-friendly exercises and workouts below, but you can also check out this vlog, compliments of Studio SWEAT onDemand where founder, Cat Kom, and Trainer Bethany demonstrate some awesome exercises you can do if you have bad knees.
So, there’s no more excuses for skipping leg day. Check out some of the best, low-impact exercises for bad knees.
- Step Downs
The best way to step up your workouts without wrecking your knees? Try step downs, one of the most deceptively easy leg workouts for bad knees, that’ll target your leg muscles and stretch out your knees nicely. With step downs you:
- Find a step stool, short bench, platform, or stair step
- With your legs hip width apart, put your left foot on the stool
- Keeping your right leg straight, use your left leg to lift up your right leg straight
- Do 10 reps on each side for 3 cycles
- Bench Up and Overs
This variation of the step down is slightly jazzier, but it’s amazing for targeting the quads, hamstrings, and calves—basically, the muscles you also need to strengthen to help bad knees.
With Bench Up and Overs you:
- Get a platform or a short step stool or bench
- With the step in front of you, put your left leg on
- Using your left leg, lift your right leg from behind the step
- Set your right leg in front of the stool
- Do 10 reps on each for 3 cycles
- Quad Short Arc
This leg workout for bad knees is as low impact and low-tech as it gets; using a foam roller (or honestly, a rolled-up towel will do), a Quad Short Arc will strengthen and stretch your quads while isolating your knees from tension and pressure. To perform Quad Short Arcs you:
- Lay down on the ground with your legs ahead of you
- Place a foam roller under your left leg, right above the back of the knee
- Tap your foot on the ground
- Extend your leg out
- Do 10 reps for each leg
- Straight Leg Lunges
Have a bum knee but still want to work out your other leg? You can bump up your workouts while avoiding a total knee blow-out with lunges, which are the simplest leg workouts you can do without equipment. Lunges are great exercises for bad knees because they’re simple, intuitive, and easily customizable. All you have to do is make sure the leg with the wobbly knees are kept straight when you extend your leg behind you. For straight leg lunges you:
- Step your good leg forward
- Bend your leg until it’s at a 90° angle
- Make sure your knees are right above your ankles
- Extend your leg with the weak knee behind you
- Keep this leg straight
- Repeat on the other side, bending only slightly when bending the bad leg
- Do 10 reps for each leg
Before you give us some serious side-eye, physical therapists have recommended Spin workouts as one of the best workouts for bad knees. Honest! Spinning is amazing for strengthening the muscles and ligaments in the legs responsible for knee pain, while being super low impact. And because it gets you to those high heart-rate zones STAT without slamming your joints, a Spinning workout is really the best cardio exercise for people with bad knees!
Want to follow a Total Body onDemand workout that’s packed with exercise just for those that struggle with knee issues? Look no further – Studio SWEAT onDemand has some great options, like AJ’s Knee Friendly Total Body Sculpt Workout.
If you’re still a lil’ bit tender in your knees, it’s super important to make sure you’re properly stretched out and adequately warmed up before you try any of these workouts. But again, the key isn’t to give up on building muscle tone. It’s more about finding a balanced approach that evenly strengthens the muscles around your knees. And if you’re looking for more awesome workouts taught by real, world-class trainers, sign up for Studio SWEAT onDemand’s 7-Day Free Trial. You’ll get access to hundreds of hardcore workouts, custom workouts for people with bad knees and bad backs, and a worldwide community of SWEATers like you!
Want to see what NOT to do if you have knee issues? Watch this hilarious video with Cat & Bethany.
Most medical experts agree that knee pain should not stop anyone from exercising. Of course, pounding on your knee joint area with careless high impact activity is not a good idea, and it is also recommended to those with knee concerns that they partake in some specific strengthening and stretching exercises that directly target the area.
Many knee sufferers have had miraculous results by taking disciplined and proactive action towards the rehabilitation of knee problems, and at the very least, it should help in making pain a great deal more manageable. Some of the typical recommendations for those suffering from knee pain involve workouts with exercise equipment where movement is more or less predictable and is designed for specific types of motion.
Exercise Equipment For Bad Knees
The key word when exercising with bad knees or knee pain is usually “low-impact.” Four of the most popular low-impact exercise devices include the 1). The Elliptical Machine. People are still buzzing about the many new types of elliptical machines, most likely because many of them have been enhanced with some of the latest physiological, kinesiological, and movement science technology. The workout kinesis is said to be similar to walking, running, and biking, These machines have been known to create a rather smooth and somewhat optimistic, state-of-the-art kind of exercise experience. 2). The Rowing Machine. This workout strengthens your arms, back, and legs without placing the stress of the movement upon your knees. 3). The Stationary Bike. The recumbent bike, in which the rider sits in a laid-back reclining position, most experts say is preferable at first to the upright bike, which requires more effort in the core muscle area. The Stationary Bike is one of the most important pieces of exercise equipment having a long history of benefit for those suffering from past injuries and/or surgery. 4). Resistance Training. With the Resistance Training, it is possible to focus and work on the muscles of the lower body without much direct impact on the knee joints. The knee-injured person need only be conscious of where they are placing the stress of the movement. For example, exercises involving the hamstring muscles are best performed while lying on your stomach.
Visit Total Fitness Equipment To Learn About Our Fitness Equipment For Knee Pain
Total Fitness Equipment is your premier source for home and commercial exercise equipment in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. It is a local, family-owned Fitness Equipment Store committed to becoming your “fitness partner.” Your health and fitness is our team’s highest priority. We sell ellipticals, treadmills, exercise bikes, and more. In addition to residential/home gym equipment, we provide commercial fitness equipment for your gym or fitness center.
What to Do If Working Out Is Killing Your Knees
Knee pain is a common exercise complaint. The knee is an intricate joint, involving bones, menisci, muscles, tendons, and ligaments all supporting the joint. If there is damage or stress to any of these components, you may have achy knees. Plus, many physical activities—running, jumping, stretching, bending—can put a lot of strain, impact, or body weight directly on the knees, and in turn, cause pain while you work out. This is common among weekend warriors who work out intensely but inconsistently. You can also develop tendonitis over time if you’re regularly doing these motions.
Some causes of knee pain are a bit more serious, however. A common cause in young people, especially those who exercise or play high-impact sports, is patellofemoral pain syndrome. Also known as runner’s knee, this syndrome is characterized by pain in the soft tissues and bone around the kneecap. Treatment may involve rest and physical therapy to stabilize the knee joint. Or, it’s possible that the cartilage in your knees has suffered some wear and tear with use and age (osteoarthritis), in which case you may have to change up your workouts and incorporate more low-impact activities, like swimming, using the elliptical, or cycling, to lessen the pain.
Doing away with general knee pain from exercising could just be a matter of perfecting your form when you, say, run or do squats and lunges. A few sessions with a certified personal trainer or physical therapist can help you learn these basic movements so that you’re doing them with correct form every time and not putting yourself at risk of injury or long-term damage. Or you may need to do physical therapy to improve your knee stabilization. But because there are so many possible reasons for knee pain, your best bet is to talk to your doctor so you can get the specific help you need.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
Easy Exercises for Knee Arthritis
The best knee exercises may be the ones you can do at home or even during a break at the office. They’re easy, effective, and convenient, and don’t require any special equipment. Do them slowly and gradually increase the number of repetitions as your muscles get stronger.
Afterward, be sure to do a few gentle stretching exercises to help prevent your muscles from tightening up. Consider exercising your knees every other day to give sore muscles a rest.
Leg raise (lying)
- Lie flat on your back on the floor or bed with your arms at your sides, toes up.
- Keep your leg straight while tightening your leg muscles, and slowly lift it several inches.
- Tighten your stomach muscles to push your lower back down.
- Hold and count to 5, then lower your leg as slowly as possible.
- Repeat, then switch to the other leg.
Exercise tip: Start with one set of four for each leg.
Why it works: This exercise strengthens the quadriceps, which are the large muscles on the fronts of your thighs that attach to your knee joints.
Hamstring stretch (lying)
- Lie on the floor or bed with both legs bent.
- Slowly lift one leg, still bent, and bring your knee back toward your chest.
- Link your hands behind your thigh, not your knee, and straighten your leg.
- Pull your straight leg back toward your head until you feel the stretch.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then slowly bend your knee and lower your leg back to the floor.
Exercise tip: Perform the stretch 1 time on each leg.
Why it works: This exercise stretches and strengthens your hamstrings, which are the muscles on the backs of the thighs that attach to the knees.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and stretch your arms out in front of you.
- Slowly bend your knees until you’re in a half-sitting position. Hold on to a chair for balance, if necessary.
- Keep your back straight and chest lifted — don’t lean forward.
- With your feet flat on the floor, hold the position for 5 seconds, then slowly stand back up.
There should be no pain while performing this exercise.
Exercise tip: Do 10 repetitions, and slowly work up to three sets of 10.
Why it works: This exercise strengthens the muscles on the fronts and backs of your thighs, along with the gluteus.
- Stand between two chairs and hold on to them for balance.
- Lift one leg about 12 inches and hold it out in front of you.
- Slowly, keeping your back straight, bend the other leg and lower your body a few inches, as if you were about to sit in a chair. Don’t cross the lifted leg in front of the bent leg.
- Hold for 5 seconds and straighten back up.
- Repeat and switch legs.
Exercise tip: Start with one set of four leg dips for both legs, and slowly work up to three sets.
Why it works: This exercise strengthens the muscles on the fronts and backs of your thighs, as well as your buttocks.
- Sit on the floor with both legs out straight. Stabilize yourself with your hands on either side of your hips, and keep your back straight.
- Slowly bend one knee until it feels stretched, but not until it becomes painful.
- Hold your leg in that position for 5 seconds, then slowly straighten your leg out as far as you can, again holding for 5 seconds.
Exercise tip: Repeat and switch legs whenever one begins to tire, 10 times.
Why it works: This exercise also strengthens the quadriceps.
Strength training is key for preventing injury, especially in runners. But in trying to undo the causes of knee pain, are your gym exercises making it worse?
We spoke to Puma Team Faster trainer Jay Copley to get the low down on the things you’re doing during a workout that are actually exacerbating the problem and giving you pain in the joint or knee cap.
1. Your Alignment In Basic Moves Is Wrong
Group fitness is going from strength to strength, and here at Women’s Health we’re always trying out the latest classes. However, there is one big risk that comes from working out this way.
When a trainer is dealing with a room of people, very basic form can get lost in between the fuzzy mic, the darkened room and the motivating house music.
Even if you go to the gym solo, chances are you’ll have picked up bad habits along the way and without a PT there to correct you, you may well have been doing the fundamentals wrong for a long time. These habits can easily lead to knee pain.
For instance, in a forward lunge you want to ensure that your ankle, knee and shin are all stacking in a straight line, rather than letting your knee come down at a sharp angle over your ankle.
If you want to feel it in your glutes you may need quite a long stride. The most important thing to remember is maintaining a neutral spine. This may mean you hinge forward slightly if your hips are tight.
Repeatedly doing simple moves like squats and lunges with incorrect alignment will cause serious imbalances…
TRY: How To Never Plank Wrong Again
2. You’re Loading The Wrong Muscles
Everyone has imbalances. You’ll be familiar with the idea of having a dominant side, but you may not know about specific muscles that are working harder than others when you’re in the gym or on a run.
Jay explains: “The knee is very susceptible to an overuse injury because of muscle imbalances, with weakness of the hamstring muscle group leading to increased strain to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).” Yikes.
Most people who spend their day at a desk will find they have this weakened group – lazy glutes anyone?
While a lot of people have this issue, they often exacerbate it by continuing to load their quads in everything from bodyweight exercises to heavy lifting, and of course running.
This becomes a problem when your hardworking quads are asked to do too much. That’s when you’ll start to feel a pull on the connective ligaments – one of the key knee pain causes. Ouch.
This is where glute activation comes in. If your butt muscles are lazy you’ll need to turn them on before you even start exercises like squats.
TRY: 4 Glute Activation Exercises
3. You’re Wearing The Wrong Shoes
If you lift weights in running shoes, you’ll struggle to stabilise yourself correctly. Trainers that are designed for running will often have a lot of cushioning and a higher degree of elevation between the forefoot and the heel.
Jay makes reference to yoga in his advice during squat training: “You want to feel the four corners of your feet. There is a bit of a myth that you need to feel it in your heels to target the glutes. You want an even, stable spread across your feet.”
So how does wearing the wrong shoes impact your knees? It’s the loading problem again. If your heel is already raised you may find it harder to recruit you glutes and hamstrings.
TRY: Are These The Best Weight Lifting Shoes?
4. You’re Not Working On Stability & Mobility
Recently introduced strength training into your weekly workout plan? Chances are you haven’t matched it with mobility work. We know, there’s only so much time in the day!
While you may not be a professional athlete with all the hours in the day to dedicate to training, if you’re upping your running and/or resistance training, you need to allocate some time to mobility.
Jay explains: “Your hip is your centre of gravity, and the source of start point for a lot of leg movements – especially running. A weak, immobile hip can have a knock on effect on your ability to perform those movements correctly.
It’s not all bad news though, as Jay says, “hip muscles and ligaments are among the strongest in the body. They can affect stride, quickness, agility, and explosive power.” That means with regular mobility and stability exercises you can see results as well as prevent injury and knee pain causes.
TRY: Exercises To Improve Mobility and Form
5. You’re Going Too Heavy Too Soon
If you haven’t worked out all of the above and head straight for the heavy weights you may end up making your issues worse and risk turning a knee niggle into a serious injury.
Deadlifts and barbell back squats are great exercises but unless you identify how you should be doing them, you could do more harm than good. This is where a PT comes in handy. They can work out how you should adjust movements around your range and weaknesses.
“People think that there is only one way to do a squat but if you have weak glutes and don’t bring your feet wide enough you’ll keep loading the quads and won’t see any changes,” Jay explains.
TRY: How To Pick The Right Weight For You
6. You Never Do Single Leg Exercises
Once again, we’re talking about imbalances. This time between your left and right side.
Jay makes it clear: “When we run, we spend time on one foot for a fraction of a second before pushing off and landing on the other foot. Essentially, running is a series of single leg squat jumps, occurring quickly and repetitively.
“Being able to stand comfortably on one leg is a key factor into staying injury free. If you can’t control yourself while balancing on one foot, it is going to be difficult to dynamically perform a single leg squat jump over the course of a few miles while you are running.”
That said, you need to ensure you build up to what you’re capable of without causing injury. If you’re wobbling on one foot, going straight into single leg deadlifts may not be the best idea.
Start with clamshells and weighted lunges and then move on to the more advanced movements.
TRY: How To Do A Single Leg Deadlift
7. Your Running Form On The Treadmill is Off
Unsurprisingly your running form has a big impact on your knees. While this is true outside the gym too, it’s important to remember that running on a treadmill can alter your form and give you an unnatural stride pattern.
Jay says: “Other than issues you may already be aware of like over-pronating (when your foot rolls out on impact) you need to address your cadence and make sure you’re not over-striding.
“You may also find you drop your opposite hip as your foot lands.” Unfortunately running isn’t as simple as one foot in front of the other, and the correct alignment throughout the movement will prevent injury and pain in your knee or elsewhere.
TRY: Understanding The Correct Alignment When You Run
8. You’re Neglecting Your Core
Those single leg moves we were talking about? They’re borderline impossible without a stable core.
Not only that, if your abdominals are weak, your back muscles can become tight and shortened. This then puts your pelvis into and exaggerated anterior tilt, tightening your hip flexors, and in turn placing more pressure onto the knees.
It really is all connected… Who just got Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in their head?
TRY: The Ultimate Abs Programme
9. You’re Not Stretching
It’s the thing everyone neglects but if you’re leaving the gym without stretching, it could be any one of your hamstrings, hips, calves, or quads pulling on the ligaments around your knee… or a lovely combination of all of them.
It’s also important to remember that you’ll struggle to undo the imbalances you may be working on if your muscles are so tight that you can’t activate them.
If you feel like this may be happening to you, consider a pre-workout foam roll.
TRY: Should You Be Foam Rolling Before A Workout?
Francesca Menato Social Media Editor Ces is the resident runner, with 3 marathons (and counting) under her belt.