Modifying workouts due to knee injury

by Jeri
(Hawaii)

Hi Monica,

Wouldn't you know it I got injured...I should've listened to my body when I first felt that dull nagging right knee pain but I went running anyways & slacked off on my yoga workouts. Now I'm paying for it & I have to take a break from running.

In my past life I would've fallen off the wagon, not worked out for weeks or months until my knee felt better, & turned to food for comfort. Not anymore...especially in the midst of the holidays & rainy weather I'm looking at this as an challenge that I know I can overcome.

That said, here's what I've done to modify my workouts due to my knee injury:

1) Elliptical (using intervals to get my heart rate up)
2) Focus on core (time to dust off Tony Horton's ABX dvd)
3) Focus on upper body workouts
4) Yoga - minus the one leg balance poses
5) Lower body workouts - put away my 5-lb ankle weights, minus the squats, lunges & focus on more pilates moves like leg lifts.
6) Weighted hula hoop
7) Food - be extra vigilant especially during the holidays & make sure I get lots of quality foods - fruits, veggies, water, whole grains & fiber.

Do you have other suggestions? As always, I appreciate any advice you can give me. I have a binder dedicated just to your website because I've printed out a lot of the material because I'm always going back to reference it or review it especially when I need some extra motivation.

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Modifying workouts due to knee injury

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Foam roller therapy plus glute & core work
by: Monica

Hey Jeri

Sorry to hear you're injured. We all fail to listen to our bodies and then end up paying for it with pain and the inability to workout.

The main reasons fit people have knee injuries due to running regularly are:

1. Tight hip flexors
2. Tight ITB and TFL
3. Weak glutes & weak core
4. Shoes with too much support
5. Terrain speed and/or distance always the same

I guarantee that if you get on a foam roller and roll out your quads, ITB, and TFL you will release a ton of tightness and the pain will go away fast. Foam roller work is painful but totally worth it if you want to heal faster. Try the foam roller routine in the video below or get started with Foam Roller with Core Performance DVD

The second thing to do is to work on exercises that strengthen the glutes and core. Skip the P90X (not a good idea for you at this point) but definitely do pilates or other core workouts that focus on your TVA (deep ab muscles that stabilize) skip anything that focus on the rectus abdominis (pretty 6 pack muscles). Try Swiss Ball Abs and Core with Adam Ford

Once you are ready to get back to running you may want to consider running for a few weeks without shoes (on grass or on sand). Pay attention to what your body tells you when running without shoes. Your feet will clue you in about postural imbalances that need correcting while running.



If you want to prevent this from happening again be sure to start all your workouts with some good mobility warmup exercises. It takes less than 5 minutes to do this entire routine.

I used to live on the foam roller and had to do hours of yoga each week just to stay pain free but then I started mobility exercises regularly and no more pain or injuries.


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Foam Roller
by: Jeri

I absolutely LOVE my foam roller! I'm constantly looking for new & inexpensive fitness equipment & you've always give great suggestions.

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Workout Setbacks Are Often A Great Thing
by: Monica

Hey Jeri

I'm glad you love the foam roller. Did you get a dvd with it?

I was having the same problem last week. I got all excited about a new butt workout plan so instead of finishing up 6 weeks of intense training with a week of recovery yoga workouts, I jumped right into this new plan and the knee pain started within days.

I instantly thought of you! So I got into my week of yoga workouts and the pain is now gone. The great thing about all this is I was finally able to do revolved triangle, a pose I had not been able to get into in a very long time.

Sometimes our setbacks are good things. Good that you are able to see that.


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Setbacks = Opportunities
by: Jeri

I didn't get a dvd - I've actually been researching getting a foam roller for a while & had a book about it before I got the foam roller.

It's been over 3 weeks since my knee injury & although it feels better, I'm going to hold off on running for another week just to be sure. In the meantime, I've been enjoying focusing on my strength training and yoga.

My hubby tells me to take this injury as a sign because he notices I work out pretty hard core & he was afraid I'd get burned out (which is what happened to a close friend of ours & she hasn't been able to get back on the workout wagon for a while now).



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Back to the drawing board
by: Jeri

Hi Monica,
I just wanted to give you an update. I slowly tried to start running again (I jogged/walked about a mile with my daughter in the stroller) & the next day my knee pain came back so I scheduled an appointment to see a sports medicine specialist.

Turns out I have runner's knee (patellofemoral syndrome) due to abnormal tracking of the kneecap because of muscular imbalance.

In addition, I wanted to share with you some rehab exercises he gave me (to improve muscle balance with quad strengthening): LEG LIFTS - sit on floor, legs out in front, lift 1 leg as high as I can & out to side then back to start, TOWEL SMASH - same position sitting position on floor, roll towel & place under both knees, press down as hard as I can & hold, BALL SQUEEZE - sit on chair, place ball between knees & squeeze. I'm supposed to do 2 sets of 12 everyday & I've immediately began to feel the difference in my knee.


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High Five
by: Monica

Hey Jeri

I am so glad you went to a doc. I have clients who put this kind of thing off for ages and then the damage get so bad and is so much harder to fix.

You are smart to address it sooner rather than later. Those exercises he gave you are excellent and they do work fast.

Let me know when you are recovered and maybe we can do a posture evaluation and work some corrective exercise into your routine.

BTW Happy New Year!!

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Status Update
by: Jeri

Hi Monica,
I wanted to let you know my knee pain is slowly but surely diminishing & I decided to wait it out for at least another 2-4 weeks (I want the pain completely gone). I'm also happy to say I've maintained my weight & the elliptical isn't so bad anymore (I used to dread it). This injury has opened my eyes & I now know I need to vary my workouts more & focus on flexibilty.

However, when my xrays on my knee came back showing "mild degenerative arthritis" naturally it caused me some concern until my doctor assured me the finding is incidental & all of our cartilage cushions will slowly wear down with time & the best "medicine" is to stay active & fit. Furthermore, he added there is no reason why I can't get back to my normal activity without limitation (I'm even missing my lunges & squats). I'm so glad I went to see a sports medicine specialist.

He added Glucosamine supplements is safe & reasonable but expensive doesn't mean better. I wanted your take on these supplements. Thank you.

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Glucosamine worked for me
by: Monica

Hey Jeri

Sorry, I missed this post. I used glucosamine back when I was dancing for a living. My knees were a mess back then and so was my lower back. At one point I thought I was going to need surgery.

The glucosamine helped but what helped more was my neuromuscular therapist at the time started doing thai massage which is like an assisted type of yoga. This made a huge difference which goes back to all the mobility stuff I'm always going on about.

Mobility exercise is the secret to injury prevention, recovering from nasty injuries faster, and preventing re-injury. I finally filmed a mobility routine (maybe you already saw it) but be sure to do this before you run.




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Getting knee injury and maintaining workout regime
by: Lisa

I don't know when this was posted, but I sure found this to be beneficial. I'm a bit discouraged because of a back of the knee (hamstring) pain that has nagged me these last few weeks. I'm an older woman who is trying to maintain a good level of fitness because it just feels great to be fit.
Thank you for the foam roll tip. I happen to have one and I have done these exercises in the past, but like...duh...forgot that I could use these. I also like that yoga downward facing dog with the leg cross over routine. Very, very nice.
Thanks again.
Lisa

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flexibility tips for back of knee pain
by: Monica

Hey Lisa

Thanks for posting. Something that helps a lot of my clients with back of the knee pain is increasing flexibility in the calves and the quads. Try hanging both heels off a step for 3-5 minutes. The dowdog is also pretty great for calf flexibility and walking quad stretch also works wonders for back of the knee pain and tightness because it brings the front and back of the leg muscles into balance with each other.

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On going knee injury
by: Jane

I was wondering if there is anyone out there who can give me some advice about which intervals I can do without causing more damage to my knee. I had a bike accident about five years ago and hurt my knee, the only way to fix it is to have an op and the doctor advices against it for now. I want to keep up with my exercise regime but when i jump rope or run i start to get a lot of pain in my knee. Can anyone suggest any short burst intervals i can do which won't cause more pain in my knee?

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cardio interval options for ongoing knee issues
by: Monica

Hey Jane

I've worked with quite a few women who had ongoing knee issues because they chose not to have surgery for various reasons so there's many ways to modify your workouts for knee injuries or pain.

Any type of running or jumping and even some step up exercises can aggravate the knee pretty badly so try to stay away from those.

The only time you should ever do high impact activities is if you've worked with a corrective exercise or rehab trainer to correct imbalances and he/she gives you the o.k. to do so.

Otherwise stick to cardio intervals on any type of bikes, on the elliptical. If you don't have access to those machines then try burpees without the jump, mountain climbers, mountain runners, kettlebell swings, medicine ball slams or throws, and trx power pulls, trx rows, seated to standing rope climbing. For workouts with those exercises just go to the find workouts tab and search any of these exercises.

There are hundreds of ways to increase the heart rate and burn tons of fat without having to resort to running and jumping. I've just been through 6 months of rehab for my hip and have experienced back and knee issues in the past as well so I know exactly what you're going through. It can be frustrating but you have plenty of options. You just have to be creative and open to new ways of training. I highly recommend seeing a corrective exercise trainer at least for a month. It makes a huge difference and they can teach you all kinds of ways to modify exercises. I also recommend cutting back on calories a bit for now. That helped me maintain my weight and even lose a few extra pounds of fat during my rehab : )

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