How to Modify Exercises for Knee Pain

Dealing with knee pain can be a major roadblock to staying active and healthy. Whether it’s due to injury, arthritis, or other conditions, modifying your workouts can help you stay fit while preventing further discomfort. It’s essential to listen to your body during exercise for knee pain and make adjustments as needed. At F45, we want to provide you with tips on how to modify your workouts when dealing with knee pain, including knee strengthening exercises and stretches for knee pain. 

What can cause knee pain? 

Recognising knee pain is easy: knowing what caused it can be more difficult. Knee pain can affect people of all ages regardless of fitness level. Here are some of the more common causes of knee pain: 

  • Age: in the natural course of ageing, our bones and joints can weaken, which can in turn contribute to knee pain or injury. 
  • Injury: our knees can be injured in the course of everyday activities or overuse, leading to strains, sprains, tears or fractures.
  • Medical conditions: some health concerns like arthritis, gout and lupus can impact joints and cause knee pain. 

If you’re uncertain of the cause your knee pain, it’s best to seek the advice of a healthcare professional. However, for some mild forms, it’s possible to strengthen and support your sore knees with knee strengthening exercises and appropriate modifications. 

Tips and benefits for exercising with knee pain 

Most people are no stranger to knee pain. In fact, there are approximately 365 million people worldwide living with knee osteoarthritis, which can cause debilitating knee pain.¹ While sore knees can put us out of action in terms of our exercise regimens – and you should always speak to your healthcare provider if you have concerns – knee-strengthening exercises can help with both injury recovery and prevention. If you’re undertaking group fitness classes, you can defer to your trainer for knee-friendly movement modifications. By strengthening the knee joint with gentle, lowimpact movements, you can increase mobility and range of movement. Research supports exercise as an effective means of managing knee pain² and you can see F45’s tips below. 

Low-impact exercises 

Low-impact exercises are gentle on the knees while still providing an effective workout. Consider incorporating these into your routine to help ease knee pain: 

Cycling: stationary or outdoor biking can be less stressful on the knees compared to activities like running. 

Elliptical training: this machine provides a good cardio workout with minimal impact on the knees. 

Clamshells: for this movement, lie on your side with your legs stacked and bent at a 90-degree angle. Your head will be either on the ground or supported in your hand. Squeeze your ankles together and slowly lift the top knee to the ceiling, opening your legs like a clamshell. Repeat this 10-15 times per leg in 2-3 sets each day. 

Leg raises: lie on your back with one leg bent, foot pressed to the floor, and the other leg straight. Slowly raise your straightened leg with your foot flexed, activating your quadricep. Hold at the top, then lower. Repeat this 10 times per leg in 2-3 sets each day. 

Strength training modifications 

There are countless benefits of strength training to support your overall health, but certain exercises can strain the knees. Modify your routine with these adjustments: 

Squats: instead of deep squats, try partial squats or use a chair for support to reduce the load on your knees. 

Leg press: adjust the seat and foot position to a comfortable angle that doesn’t cause knee pain. 

Lunges: limit the range of motion and use a stable surface for balance, such as a countertop or chair. 

Cushioning: for some movements, when one or both knees are placed on the floor or a hard surface, placing a small cushion or folded towel under your knee will help to lower the impact. 

Stretching and flexibility 

Keeping your muscles flexible can help reduce knee pain. Incorporate these stretches for knee pain into your routine:  

Hamstring stretch: sit on the floor with one leg extended and gently lean forward, keeping your back straight.  

Quad stretch: stand and bend one knee, bringing your foot toward your buttocks and hold onto a stable surface for balance. 

Calf raises: these are simple but unexpectedly helpful for knee pain and stretching. Stand up with your feet placed parallel, hip width apart, and slowly raise onto your toes, activating your calves. Slowly lower down. Repeat 10 times, in 2-3 sets daily. 

Knee pain shouldn’t deter you from staying active. By modifying your workouts with low-impact exercises, adjusting strength training routines, incorporating stretching, and listening to your body, you can continue to pursue a healthy lifestyle while managing knee discomfort. Always remember to consult with a healthcare provider or physical therapist before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have existing knee issues. 

 Remember, it’s about finding what works best for your body and its needs! 



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