Reasons You Have Knee Pain
Knee pain is very common in the lifting community, however it is something that is often a sign of poor programming, poor technique, or lack of mobility.
In more extreme cases, it is due to structural damage within the knee itself.
Below, we will discuss seven of the most common reasons why you have knee pain, and what you need to do about it.
Note: This isnt an exhaustive list Its also not meant to diagnose you. Please consult with your doctor.
How To Help Your Knees
Bungo recommends a four-pronged strategy to promote good knee function and help reduce wear and tear on your knees:
- Choose low-impact aerobic exercises biking, cycling, elliptical training, swimming or walking instead of high-impact activities, such as jogging, running or singles tennis. If you are passionate about running for exercise, consider alternating between running and performing low-impact activities throughout the week.
- Do lower-body strengthening exercises on at least two nonconsecutive days of the week, targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles and calves. Avoid leg-extension exercises at the gym leg presses and seated hamstring curls are better options, Bungo advises.
- Perform flexibility activities daily. .
- Minimize high-risk activities, such as repetitive squatting, repetitive heavy lifting, or working for extended periods in a kneeling position .
Weve definitely seen lots of success stories and improvements in function. Folks are able to get back to tolerating a round of golf or being able to play tennis, he says. Building strength to create a more stable joint can reduce pain and improve function. Youre probably not going to see yourself get better if youre not doing stretching or strengthening or modification of your activities.
How To Build Strong Quads With Bad Knees
Knee pain is often seen as a death sentence for an individual wanting to build some big strong quads.
Outside of the stubborn gym rat who will continue to squat through knee pain until his patellas explode, knee pain is usually so bad that it deters people from even trying to train their legs in the first place. The pain just doesnt make it worth it.
While I know how incredibly frustrating knee pain can be for your training, I 100% believe you can program around it if you are smart with your exercise selection. Not only that, but with the right movement selection you can train your quads just as effectively as if you had no knee pain at all.
Heres how you can build bigger, stronger quads with bad knees.
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Quad Exercises To Fix Knee Pain
Tendons love load. In fact, the worst thing you can do when you suffer from knee tendon pain is to rest and do nothing. The tendon remains in the same painful state. You need load to remodel the tendon.
Based on Dr. Keith Barrs research, to enhance the healing process of your tendon during these exercises, take 15 g of collagen before exercise. This is the best quality collagen you can get by Paleo Pro which has collagen from beef, marine, chicken, and eggshell.
Why Do Quadriceps Exercises For Knee Pain
Quadriceps exercises for knee pain can make a massive difference in most cases of knee pain, particularly:
- Runners Knee: Anterior knee pain caused by a problem with kneecap movement
- Knee Tendonitis: Inflammation and degeneration of the knee tendons
- Knee Bursitis: Inflammation of the small sacs that sit between muscles, tendons and bone
- Knee Arthritis: Wear and tear of the knee cartilage and bones
- Quadriceps Strain: Tears in one or more of the quadriceps muscles
- Quads Tendon Rupture: Tear of the tendon attaching quads to kneecap
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Quad Exercises For Runners & Cyclists
If you are a cyclist and struggle with a bad knee, here are some exercises you can do to improve the strength of your quadriceps which will help relieve some of the pain you experience on the inside and outside of your knees when cycling.
ClamshellThe clamshell exercise is great for strengthening the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles. It also helps to keep the knees inline when pedaling.
1. Lie on your side on the ground.2. Place a resistance band around your legs, just above the knee.3. Place your right arm under your head to support it. Place your other arm in front of you and on the ground. This will help stabilize the body.4. Make sure your knees are bent and your ankles, knees, and hips are stacked.5. Keep your heels together and lift the left knee upwards as much as possible.6. Slowly return to the starting position.7. Repeat 10-15 times, alternating between sides after each set of 10 or 15 repetitions.
Reverse LungeThe reverse lunge is another good exercise for cyclists. It helps to improve the strength of the quads, inner and outer knees, thighs, glutes, calves, core, and hamstrings.
Reverse lunges are generally safer than forward lunges as the pressure is applied to the muscles than a forward lunge. It also helps prevent you from extending the leading foot out too much. So, it makes it safer for a cyclist who deals with knee pain.
To do this exercise:
How to do the Resistance band lateral walk:
To do this exercise:
To do this exercise:
Machine Single Leg Extensions
With the machine single leg extension, you are able to build muscle and strength one leg at a time, which can be helpful when trying to address lower body training when one knee is more painful than the other.
Whether you are recovering from an injury or want to percent one, training the legs indledning can help correct muscle imbalances and address any muscle weaknesses.
Form Tip: Use less weight than you think, and add isometric holds at the top to train the quad directly, with less weight.
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The Workout: Putting It All Together
A1. TKE : 3 sets of 15-20 each leg
A2. Lateral Monster Walks: 3 sets of 10 each direction
Rest 30-45 sec after A1 and A2 have been completed.
B. Box Squat : 3 sets of 6-10
Rest 2-3 min between sets.
C. Reverse Lunge: 3 sets of 8-12 each leg
Rest 1-2 min between sets.
D. Reverse Sled Drag:3 sets
Rest 1-2 min between sets.
Focus On Your Whole Knee
The quadriceps may be the bodys natural knee brace, as the study authors referred to them, but theyre not the only muscles that are critical for good knee function. Equally important are the hamstrings on the back of your thigh and the gluteal muscles of the buttocks. Like the quadriceps, these muscles not only help you sit and rise from a seated position, but they also enable you to complete other everyday activities. These include climbing stairs, lifting heavy objects and getting into and out of your vehicle.
Unfortunately, many people tend to focus on increasing quad strength and flexibility, at the expense of their hamstrings and gluteal muscles, Bungo says. We see that a lot, and that creates a muscle imbalance, which can predispose you to injury. Its important to have that balance.
Several complications can arise from having weakness or poor flexibility in your quads, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. For instance, you might alter your gait to compensate for these deficiencies, and in doing so, you can put stress on other parts of your body, such as your hips and lower back. Plus, poor leg strength can impair your balance and increase your risk of debilitating falls.
Balance is a combination of lower-body strength and your sense of balance, Bungo explains. Knee weakness, and lower-extremity weakness in general, absolutely can increase your fall risk.
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Kettlebell Swings For Bad Knees
The Kettlebell Swing is the perfect exercise choice for those suffering with bad knees because it works your cardio hard without you needing to fully bend your knees or use knee jolting impact. It is a great cardio workout for bad knees.
During the kettlebell swing 100s of muscles are used at a time as you forcefully use your hips to swing the kettlebell in between your legs.
The kettlebell swing uses the buttocks, hips, quads, hamstrings and back during each repetition.
One great advantage of the kettlebell swing, and why its so great for bad knees, is that it does not use a full knee bend.
The lack of a full knee bend takes the pressure off the knee joint but still loads it enough to get some activation through the quads .
Heres the Kettlebell Swing in action:
So if you never had to perform another Squat or Lunge again you can still get some great results from just using the Swing.
Valslide Landmine Reverse Lunges
To make landmine reverse lunges even more knee-friendly, try adding in Valslides or a slideboard for the reverse lunges.
Do the reps in a slow and controlled fashion and focus on keeping your weight on the heel of the working leg as you slide back as far as you can go, all without losing your balance or having your chest collapse forward.
When you reach the bottom position, think about pulling through the glute of the front leg rather than pushing with the quad. Don’t worry, your quads will still get plenty of work.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
If you watch the video, you’ll notice that the shin of the front leg hardly moves at all during the set and the tibia stays completely vertical throughout. Being that our goal is to deload the knee, that’s a good thing.
If you continue watching, you’ll also notice that I’m able to slide way back much farther back than you can step in a regular reverse lunge and even a little farther back than you can go in a landmine reverse lunge without the slide pad.
Along with making for one hell of a hip flexor stretch, this encourages a posterior weight shift to take pressure off the knee of the front working leg. Better still, it also limits knee flexion in the rear leg, which again is great for folks suffering from knee pain sometimes the rear leg experiences pain during lunges when forced to bend excessively and absorb the impact of stepping backwards.
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Train Your Quads With 10
If you want to develop any major muscle group, including your quads, its normally best to train it with a total of 10-to-20 weekly sets.
People whove been following a proper strength training program for less than two years should aim for 10-to-15 weekly sets, whereas those whove been training properly for more than two years should aim for 15-to-20 weekly sets .
Doing 10-to-15 sets in a single workout should be tough, but not too tough.
If youre doing upward of 15 weekly sets, though, youll probably find that the quality of your sets begins to suffer as you get deeper into your workout. This is why its normally better for more advanced weightlifters to divide these sets over at least two workouts per week.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
Rear foot elevated split squats , a.k.a. Bulgarian split squats, are one of my absolute favorite exercises for building the quads. That said, they aren’t always tolerated well by those suffering from knee pain.
Sometimes the pain is in the front leg, which can usually be cleared up by taking a longer stride and focusing on keeping as much of a vertical tibia as possible.
Interestingly enough, most complaints of knee pain during this exercise are usually related to pain in the rear leg. If that’s the case, the issue can often be ameliorated simply by not elevating the rear leg quite so high.
Most of the time you’ll see RFESS done using a standard weight bench, which depending on the manufacturer is typically somewhere between 17-19 inches. While that height is fine for most people, those experiencing knee pain in the rear leg should try using a 9-12 inch box instead and see if that helps.
Make sure to plantarflex the rear ankle and set up “laces down” on the box to avoid pushing through your toes. Do the reps in a slow and controlled fashion and focus on keeping your weight on the heel of the front foot, like so:
With the shorter box you can clearly see that knee flexion of the rear leg is dramatically reduced as compared to doing them on a full-sized bench. In that regard, it’s very similar to doing a regular split squat with the back leg on the floor.
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Best Quad Exercises For Bad Knees
Nobody likes knee pain, and I mean nobody.
Growing up, I always heard my parents complaining about their bad knees and I always thought it cant be that bad!. Oh boy, how wrong I was.
There are a lot of leg exercises that can hurt your knees.
So, I reached out to a ton of experts in the fitness industry and asked them for some of the best quad exercises for bad knees.
Here are 10 Quad Exercises for Bad Knees, I hope this helps!
Take It To The Next Level
If completing the standard hip hinge is easy for you , try doing it on one leg.
The last few degrees needed for full leg extension come from a muscle in the quads called the vastus medialis. This exercise will help strengthen your quads.
Equipment needed: 1- to 3-pound ankle weight
Muscles worked: quadriceps
To ensure that you have the right form and are using the correct muscles for this exercise, youll need to start by facing an open wall or door.
Equipment needed: standard table chair
Muscles worked: all the muscles in the lower body
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You Lack Knee Joint Stability During Lower Body Movements
Knee stabilization is important for lower training and knee health, and if you experience knee pain during exercise it could be due to muscle weakness in the quads and hamstrings.
When your muscles are weak around the knee, it causes the joints and connective tissues to pick up the slack. Over time, this can lead to injury and extra stress being placed on the knee joint and tissues that should be placed on the muscles.
To remedy this, you want to strengthen the muscles around the knee and progressively overload the movements and expand the range of motion in which you can move without pain.
You Essentially Have Three Choices
Option 1: Ignore your knee pain and train through it. Better yet, just get some knee wraps and wrap em’ up as tight as possible. Buy your ibuprofen in bulk from Costco. You won’t feel a thing. Woot!
I’m kidding. Having gone this route many times before, I can tell you it’s a losing proposition. Never train through pain. It may seem cool at the time, and some of your lifting buddies might say you’re “hardcore,” but when you’re hobbling around and struggling to go up and down stairs, it’s not so cool.
Option 2: Stop training your quads altogether and resign yourself to a lifetime of sweatpants and chicken legs. I mean, let’s be honest, by the time someone of the opposite sex sees your quads, you should have already sealed the deal.
Again, I’m kidding.
Option 3: Get creative and find ways to blast your quads without hurting your knees.
That sounds best to me, so let’s roll with that. Here are some exercises to help.
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Will Strengthening Your Quads Help With Knee Pain
Yes, strengthening your quads should help with knee pain. The stronger the muscles get around a joint, the more stability that joint has which can improve injury prevention during daily life and exercise.
Sometimes, however, training the quads to get stronger can lead to the quad muscles to tighten, and create more tension on the knee joint and surrounding area .
The good news is that with proper programming and quad-focused stretches can ensure recovery and minimize those risks.
More advanced lifters can also run the risk of injuring the knees in the quest for stronger quads, making it critical to always prioritize recovery and good form during lower body movements.
A good workout program that includes a variety of lower body exercises and progresses wisely can also help to increase your chances of staying injury free.
Chances are you will be sore after a good workout. Help yourself out by adding in some light cardio after a workout to decrease muscle soreness.
Long Duration Isometric Split Squat
The number one exercise to start your rehabilitation is the long-duration isometric split squat. You will have some pain when doing this. That is fine. As long as it is bearable, you need to deal with it to see progress.
Why this exercise? Dr. Keith Barr states you need to re-orientate the collagen fibers. The crosslinks need to be broken down and the new collagen fibers need to be made to run in the direction of the pull.
Slow movements are what allows this to happen. Specifically, isometric exercise which is the slowest of them all. Holding the split squat position allows for what is known as tendon creep. As the muscle is not changing in length , the tendon does slowly lengthen while you hold this position.
This lengthening slowly under load is what signals the direction for the new collagen fibers. These are relatively low stress so you can perform these every single day and build your volume each week. Further, research has shown that isometric exercise has a numbing effect so using them as part of your warm-up can set you up for a great workout .
Holding this position for 1 minute is brutal to start with. You can perform one set of one minute or you can perform multiple sets of one minute to build volume.
Recommended sets and reps: 1-3 x 1-5 minutes
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