Fitness tips for your knees

You could be 26 or 76 and have knee pain. When you’re on the younger end of the age spectrum it’s more likely to be caused by:

  • an injury
  • a mechanical issue — for instance, you might change how you walk because you hurt your hip or your foot, and put more pressure on your knees

As you age, knee pain is more apt to be a symptom of arthritis. Think about the pressure we put on our knees day in and day out over the years. There’s bound to be wear and tear. If you are overweight, had a previous injury, or if arthritis runs in your family, your risk increases.

If you want to diminish some of the stress on your knees or alleviate any pain you might have, try some of these suggestions:

  • Strengthen your muscles. Not just the ones in your thighs, but your hip and core muscles, too.
  • If you’re overweight, try losing a few pounds. I read that just one extra pound of body weight can add four pounds of pressure on your knee joints.
  • Increase your range of motion and show your fascia some love. Your entire body will thank you.
  • Avoid high-impact activities, such as jumping or jogging, but walk, walk, walk.
  • Avoid movements that require you to squat for long periods of time.

I asked Andy Wight, my coach at AW Strength & Conditioning in Westbrook, about exercising when your knees hurt. He said sometimes exercise is a good thing and sometimes it isn’t. What’s important is to evaluate any pain you might be having.

There are different levels of pain. A dull achy pain in the belly of the muscle with some stiffness could be because you tried something new that you’ve never done before or you did too much. An acute sharp pain
is usually not a good sign and should definitely be checked out.

Andy Wight, strength coach

One of the members of my Conversations About Aging Facebook group also wanted me to ask Andy about sounds you sometimes hear when you bend your knees — popping, crackling, or grinding sounds. The technical term is crepitus. Should you be worried?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I can hear it when they move their knee and I’ll hear a grinding crunchy sound. If it doesn’t happen a lot, it’s usually not something to worry about. If it’s painful, though, that’s when you should definitely get it checked out.

Andy

So … what if your knees hurt, but it’s not anything serious and some movement would do them good? Should you just dive right in? Andy says in that case, he usually steers people away from any kind of knee-dominant exercises — like squats and lunges.

He did a short video demonstration for us.

If you do not have any issues with knee pain and would like to practice doing squats, I asked Andy do demonstrate how to do one properly. One thing I would like to note and this is speaking from personal experience — DO NOT beat up on yourself if you can’t squat as low as Andy does. I can’t, but I’m grateful and really proud that I can squat at all! Anyway, here’s his demo. Good luck!

We shot a few more exercise demos, which I will share in the upcoming weeks. From sore shoulders to strong cores to aching backs, we’ve got you covered!

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.