If you’re suffering from debilitating knee pain, moving — much less walking — could be the furthest thing on your mind. However, depending on the cause of your knee pain, a bit of exercise like walking could do you a world of good.
When the cause of your knee pain is an injury, like a sprained, dislocated, or fractured knee, applying RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) during the first 48 hours and getting adequate rest are crucial for recovery. But for those with chronic knee pain (as in the case of arthritis), walking may help alleviate the aches that bother you every day.
So, if you’re looking to integrate some light exercise like walking into your daily routine, you’re on the right track. In this post, we’ll talk about the effects of knee pain on daily life, the benefits of walking for knee pain, and tips to go about it in a safe and effective manner.
How Knee Pain Affects You
When chronic knee pain takes over your life, it can keep you from enjoying simple, everyday activities. Since knee pain limits your range of motion, standing up, kneeling, and simply getting around your home can be quite challenging. This is why gradually integrating a bit of movement in the affected area can work wonders — and one way to do this is by walking.
Granted, the beginning could make you feel a little bit stiff or sore — especially after a period of minimal movement or near-total inactivity — but walking can actually help with your knee pain. However, before embarking on any type of exercise or fitness routine, you need to ensure your physician has approved your decision to start walking.
Benefits of Walking for Knee Pain
So, is walking good for knee pain?
Our short answer is: Yes, walking can help ease chronic knee pain.
Walking is a simple yet effective low-impact activity for knee pain sufferers, including those diagnosed with knee arthritis. As a gentle form of exercise, walking does not put undue stress on the joints. Moreover, it can help increase the range of motion in the affected area and prevent it from becoming overly stiff.
Other benefits of engaging in regular knee walking exercises include the following:
- It helps lubricate and rebuild joints.
- It improves blood circulation in the legs.
- It strengthens the thigh and calf muscles.
- It leads to healthy weight loss, which, in turn, reduces stress on the knees.
- It helps improve balance and coordination.
How do I stop knee pain when walking?
Even if you’re excited to start walking again, one big concern here would be how to reduce knee pain while walking. Therefore, taking baby steps is key. So, take it easy in the beginning.
What exercise is good for knee pain?
Aside from walking, other low-impact exercises you should try include stretching, swimming, and water aerobics. These are all effective for relieving knee pain and work great to strengthen your leg muscles gently. As you gain leg strength, you can also start using an exercise bike or elliptical trainer to complement your other activities.
Tips for Walking to Relieve Knee Pain
Walking with knee pain — especially in the beginning — can be quite challenging and physically taxing. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from starting, as walking can be the solution you need to overcome chronic knee pain.
Before going “all-out” with your walking, work on minimizing knee pain first by doing the following:
- Practice walking barefoot at home.
- Maintain a good posture.
- Wear flexible, comfortable, lightweight, but supportive footwear that easily bends in the forefoot area while practicing.
- Warm-up first by gently massaging your knees and doing some simple stretching exercises.
- Limit the duration of your walks in the beginning and do so on even or level terrain.
- If you need to, use a cane or walking poles to reduce the stress of walking on your knees.
- Gradually integrate lower body strengthening exercises as you build up strength and start walking more.
As you gain more confidence and strength in your legs and experience less knee pain, you can lengthen your walking time and start covering more challenging terrain.
Does knee pain go away?
Yes, knee pain can go away, but it depends on what’s causing it and what steps you’re taking to alleviate your condition. With regular exercise, you’ll be losing weight and developing stronger leg muscles — so walking can help provide relief from knee pain.
Pre-walk preparation is crucial to enjoy and benefit from your exercise. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Take everything you need to enjoy your walk, and this should include drinking water and light snacks.
You could also warm up your knees with a light massage or by using a hot pack. You could also do some light stretches to prepare your legs for the walk ahead.
How Much to Walk
When you’re just starting out with walking, do so at least three times a week. Depending on your condition or level of knee pain, you can start by walking three sets of 10-minute walks (with breaks in between) within a day. Then, gradually build this up to a single 30-minute walk per day.
You can increase the intensity, speed, and duration of your walk as you progress further. You can also start walking on more challenging terrain as the condition of your knees improves.
Is too much walking bad for the knees?
As they say, anything in excess is dangerous — and this applies to walking with knee pain, too. This is especially true if you’ve only just begun your walking routine. So, don’t sabotage your efforts by pushing yourself too hard prematurely. It’s best to comply with your doctor’s or therapist’s recommendations to get the best results.
After your walk, cool down by walking at a slower, more relaxed pace for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also do some post-walking leg stretches to reduce post-exercise soreness. If you have knee arthritis, you can prevent inflammation by cooling your knees with ice packs for 20 minutes.
Overcome Knee Pain by Walking
Walking for knee pain is an effective way of strengthening your knees and legs and improving your quality of life. Safely begin walking by following the tips shared here.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you can access helpful resources on our website or get in touch with us directly at Carolinas Pain Center.