Disclaimer: This post is about how I trained around a knee injury. What you’re dealing with may be different. Please check with your doctor(s) before doing any activity that may put your knee at risk.
If you’ve ever experienced it, you know that knee pain sucks. It can hold you back from achieving your fitness goals. I remember a time when I was battling knee pain as a result of hyperextending my knee. I think not being able to train the way I wanted hurt more than the knee pain. I had to adjust the way I trained in order to keep making progress while avoiding damage to my knee.
It was a challenge at first but over time, I figured out a way that worked for me. Some of the biggest challenges when dealing with an injury is losing muscle, losing strength, and gaining fat. I had to train in a way that protected my knee but still helped me maintain my physical abilities as much as possible.
Build Your Upper Body
A bad knee shouldn’t stop you from being able to build your upper body. If you want to burn fat then building muscle will be very valuable. Your body has to use a lot of energy in order to maintain muscle. That energy usage leads to calories being burned. Even with a bad knee, you can still do movements like the bench press, bent-over row, and pullup. If you’re worried about looking like Johnny Bravo, there are still ways to train your legs depending on severity of injury.
Train Legs Differently
Depending on the severity of your knee issues, you can still train your legs. You just have to be selective about the exercises you choose. One of the keys to choosing the right exercises is to find movements that don’t cause pain. Choosing the right exercises can also help you recover from your injury since movement is a big part of recovery.
Some examples of doing movements differently are replacing back squats with box squats since the box squat focused more on the posterior chain. Another example is replacing lunges with Bulgarian split squats. These are some of the variations that helped me when I was dealing with my knee injury.
Something else that worked for me was adding rehab and prehab exercises to my leg routines. I did a lot of exercises that targeted the VMO ( vastus medial oblique) and hamstring muscles since these are the main knee stabilizing muscles. I also trained my balance as a form of injury prevention.
If you think you can’t do cardio because you’re dealing with knee issues, think again. There are other forms of cardio besides running and jumping. When I was dealing with knee issues, my go to form of cardio was the swing. This is a hip dominate movement so you shouldn’t feel anything in your knees if you do it correctly. The kettlebell swing is one of the most effective fat burning exercises I know. It also builds muscle, which is beneficial for fat loss. It’s basically sprints minus the joint impact.
Aside from kettlebell swings, I benefited tremendously from walking in a fasted state. I think that’s one of the simplest fat burning exercises. The reason it works is your body typically uses carbs as a fuel source when doing cardio. By walking in a fasted state, your body only has fat as a source of fuel to use up.
If you’ve been battling knee pain, don’t give up .There’s always a solution. I hope these tips have been helpful. Please let me know what other ways to train around a knee injury that have worked for you.
I don’t talk frequently about nutrition but it has to be mentioned since the food you eat is a huge fuel source for your body. When I was dealing with the knee issue, the two main supplements I took were Vitamin D tablets and Glucosamine Chondroitin. Vitamin D supports bone health and Glucosamine Chondroitin supports cartilage health. Aside from tablets, you can get Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, dairy products, and eggs. Over time, I’ve also learned that Vitamin C and ginger are good for joint health since they have anti-inflammatory properties.
Glucosamine Chondroitin and Arthritis: https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/arthritis-supplements
Vitamin C and D and inflammation: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/inflammation-fighting-vitamins
Ginger and inflammation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/