Fitness

A Full-Body Workout for Anyone With Knee Pain

Anyone who’s ever had knee pain knows it can be challenging to find full-body workouts that don’t irritate the area. Whether high-impact moves meant to raise your heart rate, or certain lower-body exercises that involve bending deeply and putting extra pressure on the knees, it can sometimes feel like you have to modify or cut half the exercises in a workout to just get through it without making your knees feel worse. Don’t worry, though: It is possible to get in a great total-body workout while being gentle to your joints.

Corinne Croce, D.P.T., co-founder of Body Evolved in NYC, says that when it comes to avoiding knee pain during a workout, it’s usually more beneficial to focus on incorporating exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee and help support and stabilize the joint instead of trying to avoid using your knees entirely.

She and her co-founder, trainer Dariusz Stankiewicz, C.S.C.S., created the workout below to do just that. It includes hip stability work, lateral movements, and glute activation exercises—all of which are important to stave off and rehab knee pain, Croce says. It’s also low-impact and will get you moving in multiple planes of motion to help you develop total-body strength in a balanced, safe way.

Remember, though, that knee pain can look different for everyone. “The cause of knee issues vary,” Croce says. “Stress to the knee can come from ankle and/or hip issues, joint derangement, and/or tendon and ligament problems.” It’s best to see a professional to find out what’s causing your pain and come up with a plan for how to safely improve it. While experts like Croce can suggest exercises that are generally safe and helpful for people with knee issues, the best way to know what’s safe for you to do is to be evaluated by a doctor or physical therapist before trying anything new.

If you are cleared to exercise, this total-body workout from Stankiewicz and Croce is a good place to start. They recommend doing it two times a week to reap its strengthening benefits. Just make sure to always listen to your body as you go. If any of the exercises below make your knees feel worse or cause a sharp, sudden pain, stop doing them immediately and talk with your doctor before starting up again.

One more thing: Before you jump into it, Croce suggests warming up your muscles with some light foam rolling. Spend about one minute on each body part—glutes, quads, calves, inner thighs, back, and lats—to get your body ready for the work ahead.

Model Jeanette Eng is NASM-certified personal trainer and actress based in New York City.

The Workout

Exercises:

  • Resistance Band Lateral Walk
  • Chest Press
  • Single-Leg Deadlift
  • Hammer Curl to Push-Press
  • Elevated Single-Leg Bridge
  • Bent-Over Row

Instructions:

  • Do 8-10 reps of each exercise.
  • Rest 30 seconds in between each exercise.
  • Do the entire circuit 4-5 times.

Use a moderate weight for all. You can slowly progress to heavier weights as you get stronger and feel ready.

Here’s how to do each move:

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