Losing weight when you have knee pain can be an incredible challenge. That is because most weight loss starts with the ability to walk, jog, or ride a bike for a half-hour each day. Without this routine energy expenditure, it is difficult to burn fat and calories.
Bad knees shouldn’t stand in the way of you staying fit. Balancing gentle exercises for bad knees with a balanced reduced calorie intake can help you drop the pounds and improve your overall health.
In this article, we will discuss how to exercise with bad knees to lose weight and repair damaged joints and muscles without making your knee pain worse.
Losing Weight With Bad Knees
Losing weight with bad knees is based on the same principles of weight loss that apply to individuals without knee pain. Your goal is to expend more calories than you take in, resulting in a loss of pounds.
The Mayo Clinic states that you need to be in a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories a week to lose a pound a week and 7000 calories a week to lose 2 pounds, which is the maximum loss recommended by doctors.
The expenditure of your breath as you do cardio exercises triggers weight loss because calories are largely metabolized through the breath. However, if you can barely walk due to chronic pain, you are destined to get fatter, as you have no real way of walking or jogging.
If you are completely sedentary because of a knee injury, you might be able to achieve weight loss by reducing your calorie intake. However, it is probably not a good idea to do this for too long as bodies often require extra nourishment while healing.
Regarding your diet, this means swapping high-calorie foods for lower-calorie options. For instance, instead of drinking whole milk at 146 calories, drink skim milk at 83 calories a glass.
Counting calories in conjunction with exercise is key to helping people with bad knees lose weight. Many individuals with knee pain would find that it goes away after they lose a few pounds.
If you have a severe issue like knee osteoarthritis or limited knee function due to a joint replacement operation, you have to stick to very gentle activity.
Before taking on the suggestions in this article, you might want to consult with a personal trainer or physical therapist about what exercises might help make your knees stronger.
How to Exercise With Bad Knees to Lose Weight
Here are some suggestions for losing weight with bad knees.
It is best to do yoga under the guidance of a yoga teacher, just to make sure that you are doing the movements correctly and have someone to spot you if you fall.
Stay away from vigorous forms of yoga, such as Kundalini or Ashtanga, that require fast, vigorous sweeping movements that might strain your knee muscles.
The best class for those with knee pain but no issue with standing is Hatha Yoga. This requires less movement than other forms of yoga because it focuses mainly on the breath. It burns between 180 to 200 calories in 30 minutes.
If your movement is so impaired that you can barely stand up, many gyms now offer chair yoga classes. You sit on a chair and are guided through the movements from a sitting position.
Yin Yoga entails lying on a mat and adopting a passive posture to help the body completely relax and open up. This is a more meditative practice that involves lying on the floor, stretching, and holding your breath.
Some postures are held as long as 5 minutes at a time. If you have knee pains, an instructor may help support you as your body performs simple exercises such as straight leg raises.
Restorative Yoga is designed to assist those recovering from injuries and is ideal for people who have limited knee function because of a knee injury. Classes are long but consist of fewer poses. This gives you a great deal of time to shift your body from one position to another, thus avoiding knee pain.
Props such as bolsters, pillows, and belts are used to help reduce knee pain and any other kind of joint pain as you move from one pose to the next. Restorative yoga can help you keep your body in motion so your muscles don’t atrophy and you don’t gain weight.
Tai Chi is the ancient Chinese practice of aligning your body’s meridians through special swaying movements and poses. These movements aim to allow your energy to flow through all of the organs and surrounding muscles.
Tai Chi is recommended for those who can stand on one foot at a time. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, Tai Chi can be as effective as physiotherapy in helping to heal knee osteoarthritis.
Exercising in water works well for any type of joint pain because you simply weigh less. The buoyancy that it offers cushions your movements so that it is much harder to hurt yourself. At the same time, it allows you the weight loss benefits of oxygenating your body with aerobic exercise.
Aquafit is a form of guided exercise that takes place in a pool. Many local gyms offer these classes, employing a trained instructor to take you through a series of movements in the water that are meant to strengthen muscles and promote weight loss.
If you find it difficult to participate in an aerobic exercise in a gym because you have arthritic knee pain, give Aquafit a try. The exercises are similar to the floor exercises, except for the fact they are done in water.
Swimming works for most people with knee pain, as long as you are careful not to go too fast or kick too hard.
As it is a resistance exercise, where your body pushes against the water, you can lose quite a bit of body fat and expend up to 200 calories in a half-hour.
Swimming is not for everyone with painful knees. The repetitive kicking motion can cause stress on the inner side of the knee that is governed by the medial collateral ligament. If this is your issue, stick to floating and gentle fluid movements that don’t make painful knees worse.
Reducing Caloric Intake to Lose Weight
Drastically reducing your caloric intake to lose weight is never really recommended as people with muscle, joint, and bone disorders or injuries need to keep up their caloric intake to heal those areas of the body.
Joints, muscles, and bones need protein, collagen, and nutrients from brightly colored vegetables to rebuild tissues and cartilage. Eating enough lean protein is especially important, as is eating good fats from unsaturated oils to keep your knee joints lubricated, so they bend properly.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, men need at least 1500 calories a day to stay at a healthy weight, and women need 1200.
Having a lower caloric intake could deprive you of necessary micronutrients essential to knee joint health, such as essential fats and the minimum 50 grams of protein you should eat every day to heal painful knees.
Reducing your food intake is not recommended as you could aggravate any muscle damage caused by the original injury or chronic condition. The only exception to this is if you happen to be obese and can hardly walk. In that case, it is important to consult with a dietician to see what sort of diet is right for you.
Lose Weight with Knee Pain Tips
Here is some straightforward advice for those who have bad knees but wish to lose excess weight with exercise.
- If you feel pain at any time while exercising, stop!
- If exercising in a 30-minute session is too much, try dividing your sessions into 3 10-minute sessions.
- Breathing deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth can help you through a particularly painful movement.
- Some knee injuries to the medial collateral ligament issue or the anterior cruciate ligament may require a special brace to do exercises.
- If you feel you may have injured a ligament or muscles surrounding the knee during exercise, apply an ice pack to the area immediately to reduce swelling.
- Always consult with your doctor or physical therapist before embarking on an exercise routine.
Exercises for bad knees and eating right can go a long way towards getting you comfortably back on your feet again and moving properly.
However, if you are not careful when exercising, you could accidentally worsen your knee condition by tearing muscle tissue or triggering joint pain.
If you find exercising problematic because you have knee arthritis, a knee injury or are morbidly obese it is a good idea to consult with a physical therapist or doctor before you embark on any exercise.