Fitness with Jay
Bad Knees Blues: Protect Your Joints During Exercise
Aching knees are a common problem, especially for baby boomers. Years of playing, jumping, dancing and pounding can take its toll, and that can affect your exercise options.
Firstly, if you have knees that are feeling their age (or older than they are!) you need to check with your health care provider and get their approval and exercise recommendations. See someone who specializes in sports medicine because they will be able to provide you with even more insight as to what is appropriate for you to do when working out.
Knee pain is very specific to each person. For some people stepping is painful, for others it is not. Some find cycling hurts, and others find cycling is the only exercise they can do without pain. So, it is important to do a little experimenting to find out what modes of exercise work for you.
Water activities are probably one of the best exercises for sensitive knees. The buoyancy of the water reduces your body weight and takes some of the load off of the knees. Water fitness classes or swimming are excellent cardiovascular workouts. Of course, lots of people are intimidated by going to the pool, and being seen in their swimsuit. However, the good news is that once you are in the water, you're covered! Just cover up with a towel till you get to the pool deck, then slide on in!
If you really do like to run (whether outside or on the treadmill), but there is too much knee pain for a continuous run, try a walk/run combination where you run for a few minutes and then walk for a few minutes. This will still provide for excellent calorie burn, and reduce some of the pounding that may be causing the pain. Other cardio machines that may be appropriate are the elliptical trainer, the recumbent bike, an upright cardio bike, or even the upper body ergometer (the bicycle you operate with your arms).
Strength training for the muscles around the knee may help to reduce knee pain and increase joint stability. Exercises such as leg curls, knee extensions, squats and lunges are a great way to challenge the leg muscles, although you may have to limit the range of motion for some exercises. Your health care provider can make suggestions for which exercises are most suitable for you.
An entry-level yoga class (or yoga video) is an excellent option for many people. You will see muscle strength and flexibility gains and probably enjoy the relaxation aspect. Pilates is also another good way of exercising without putting too much stress on the knees. Pilates focuses on the core musculature and helps to improve posture. Although yoga and Pilates may not give you a cardiovascular workout, they will give you excellent muscle toning benefits.
These are just a few suggestions to help keep you exercising while reducing the discomfort of aching knees. As always, it is important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, listen to your body, and if it hurts, don't do it! Being willing to experiment to find exercise options that work for you might not only save you from knee pain, it might help you find activities you didn't know you loved!
Jay Blahnik, chosen repeatedly as one of the top instructors in the world and a fitness consultant for Nike, Nautilus, MSNBC.com and others, loves Bowflex.Fitness with Jay Articles: