Exercise and Knee Health: Safe Practices for Patients with Knee Issues

Miss Charlotte Barker
MSK Associate
Published at: 17/12/2023

Exercise and Knee Health: Safe Practices for Patients with Knee Issues

Exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining knee health, but it's essential to approach it with caution and awareness, particularly for those with existing knee problems. In this article, I'll share safe practices for exercising with knee issues, drawing upon my expertise in knee surgery, cartilage preservation, and sports medicine.

Understanding Knee Issues

Knees are complex structures that bear a significant portion of our body's weight. Issues can arise from various factors, including injuries, overuse, age-related wear and tear, or underlying health conditions. Symptoms might include pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Recognising these signs and consulting with a healthcare professional is the first step towards a tailored exercise regimen.

The Role of Exercise in Knee Health

Regular exercise can strengthen the muscles around the knee, improve flexibility, and enhance joint stability. However, it's vital to choose the right type of exercise to avoid exacerbating knee issues.

Recommended Exercises

  1. Low-Impact Cardiovascular Exercises: Activities like swimming, cycling, and walking place less stress on the knees compared to high-impact exercises.
  2. Strength Training: Focus on strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Use light weights and higher repetitions to avoid strain.
  3. Flexibility and Balance Exercises: Yoga and Pilates can improve flexibility, balance, and joint function.

Exercises to Avoid

Patients with knee issues should generally avoid high-impact exercises like running, jumping, or any activity that involves quick pivoting or twisting movements.

Tips for Safe Exercise

  • Start Slowly: Gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercises.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pain is a warning sign. If an exercise causes pain in the knee, stop immediately.
  • Use Proper Equipment: Wear supportive footwear and consider using knee braces if recommended.
  • Warm-Up and Cool Down: This practice helps in preparing the muscles and joints for exercise and reducing stiffness post-exercise.
  • Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration is crucial for joint health.

When to Consult a Professional

If you experience persistent knee pain, swelling, or other concerning symptoms, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide a diagnosis, recommend appropriate treatment, and guide you in creating an exercise plan that suits your specific needs.


Incorporating safe and knee-friendly exercises can significantly contribute to knee health and overall wellbeing. It's about finding the right balance and understanding the limitations of your body. Remember, each individual's situation is unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. Therefore, it's always advisable to seek professional advice before starting any new exercise regimen.