WORKING OUT WITH KNEE PAIN: MY WORKOUT ROUTINE
Since I'm about 18, I've had this weird knee pain no one can explain. Every time I've seen a doctor about it (and I've seen a lot of doctors about it) it goes the same way. I hear hmmm, you're not overweight, you're young, do you play sports? No? Hmm... And then crickets. I feel like there should be a movie about me called The curious case of Jenny Mehlmann.
That being said, I'm not actively pursuing it either, because the pain is not unbearable, and it doesn't really keep me from doing anything. On days when the pain is a little more intense, I have a knee brace I can wear, which helps tremendously.
On a side note, I seriously highly recommend it. I got mine (very similar to the one I linked) at the pharmacy, on a day when it was extremely painful to even walk, and I haven't looked back ever since. (Although I did realize afterwards that they're much cheaper on Amazon.) I used to have one with stabilizers and an open patella (a hole in the front). But I feel like it made the whole situation even more painful... And also left insane marks on my knee and leg, making me look like I took a beating.
So yeah, back to our main topic... My knee pain doesn't really keep me from doing anything, except working out. Like, forget me doing squats and running, I just can't. But over the years, I figured out that it's still very possible to be working out with knee pain. It does require an adjustment, but it shouldn't be an excuse not to move. Actually, I feel like my knees are a lot better when I'm doing physical activity on the reg.
A doctor even told me that as long as I'm not doing anything too intense to make the pain worse, I should be working out. And here's why: There are plenty of muscles around the knee. The stronger these muscles are, the better they can support the actual knee, making it stronger. For someone with knee pain, having stronger knees is crucial. Obviously this is what works for me, but I'm not a doctor... Please, please do your own research and consult a doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine, especially if you're already dealing with pain. Everyone is unique and the last thing you wanna be doing is making things worse.
But should you decide to workout, it's important to do things that are gentle on the knees. After a few years of working on it, I came up with a pretty solid routine. Here's exactly how I'm working out with knee pain:
Swimming is one of the activities that are not bad for the knees, but actually good for them. Moving across the pool is a good physical exercise, but it doesn't put any pressure on the knees. It's actually one of the rare forms of working out that provides impact-free movement. Because water makes everything seem weightless, there are a TON of exercises you can do in the pool, even with bad knees. Plus, it's also super fun and quite refreshing in the summer. To me swimming doesn't even feel like a workout, but more like a treat. Which works really well for me, because I hate working out. If you don't have a pool at home, or if you live somewhere where winters are harsh, I highly recommend getting a membership to your local pool. Personally, I try to swim 2-3 times a week for about 30 minutes.
I know this might sound counterintuitive, but it's actually not. Although running is very bad for the knees because it causes a lot of impact, walking is way more gentle. Since I have a dog, I already have to take him out anyways... So I figured I might as well turn it into a workout we both enjoy. If I know I'm gonna go on a longer walk, I put my brace on, but I'm usually able to walk without too much pain (if any). While you won't see me jogging in the neighbourhood anytime soon, I walk ever single day, for about an hour. Sometimes, on the weekend, I'll also go on a longer walk with Sasha.
If you're lucky enough to live close to a beach, I highly recommend walking in the sand, by the water, barefoot. Since the ground is much softer there than on the sidewalk, it's even less impact on your knees. As far as workout goes, walking in sand also requires a much greater physical effort. It also helps strengthen muscles and tendons way more than walking on the street. I also find it to be so peaceful, almost meditative.
When it comes to the exercises you can do at the gym, working out with knee pain gets a little tougher. Squats, spinning and any jumping can be quite painful, but there's still a ton of other exercises you can do. To be honest, I'm not a fan of training my arms, and even less of going to the gym. But I do love a good ab workout. I try to workout from home, on my yoga mat, for 10 minutes, 4-5 times a week. Granted, sometimes I take a break for a few weeks, but I do feel more energized and happy when I do it.
My go-to ab exercises are sit-ups, crunches, Russian twists, flutter kicks, leg raises, planks and side planks.
That's really all there is to it guys, nothing complicated, really! Since I really hate working out, I tried finding activities that don't feel like a workout. And it's working really well for me. Working out is obviously way more effective when it's paired with a great diet, so I do my best to eat healthy and cook my own meals. If you need tips to start working your magic in the kitchen, I wrote a full post on it!
Before I go, I feel like I also wanna share a few additional tips on how to make working out feel like less of a chore. As I mentioned 983642 times in this post I hate working out. But I feel like these little tips really help me look forward to it, rather than dread it:
Find the activities that work for you: Just because everyone in town is doing yoga doesn't mean you have to. If you find it boring as hell, maybe try something else. Don't be afraid to try things, that's what keeps life interesting! I'm personally dying to try stand-up paddle-boarding, as it's a perfect way of working out with knee pain (and it seems so fun!).
Get the right gear: Wether you're working out with knee pain or not, it's important to have the right equipment. Buying great running shoes forever changed my game (here's the link to the Adidas pictured here). I also love wearing cute workout clothes when I workout, so I ditched all my nasty old t-shirts I kept to workout in, and invested in nice leggings and sports bras instead. I feel like wearing pretty clothes you actually wanna wear makes you want to workout more than a ratty old pair of sweatpants, ya know?
Reward yourself: After a good workout, I love to reward myself. So after swimming, I'll go sip on some champagne in the Jacuzzi with Sasha. If we go for a particularly long walk on the weekend and come late in the afternoon, we'll grab poké on the way so I don't have to cook. These are small things but they make a huge difference, in the sense that you're actually looking forward to it.
So that's it guys! I hope you enjoyed reading about my workout routine. I feel like I've been getting so many questions about it, it was about time to share! Also, I hope these tips will be helpful even to the most reluctant of you... And trust me I'm right there with you! But the more I workout, the more I see that it helps me feel good in my body. Which is the ultimate goal, right?
Any of you working out with knee pain? What exercises do you do? I'm always up to try something new and switch it up a little! You can share in the comments below, or come hit me up on Instagram!
Love, Jenny xx