Runner’s knee, while most common in women, can affect anyone. It can occur in any joint and is caused by the overuse of a joint. The cartilage softens, becomes worn, and in the case of your knee, the knee cap slips out of place. This can be prevented by stretching and strengthening your leg muscles and a proper warm up. If you have not already established a routine or are ready to try something new, here are some low-impact exercises that are easy on your joints.
Walking and Hiking
Walking and hiking are generally considered low-impact activities. Walking down hills and over rocks, however, can be hard on your knees. Therefore, you should be sure to warm up properly. In order to get the full cardio benefit of such a workout, you will need to increase your speed as you walk. Increasing arm movements will also help get your heart pumping.
Swimming is a notoriously low-impact workout that affects your whole body. If you do not enjoy swimming laps, consider investing in a water aerobics class. There you will meet new people and learn several different exercises in order to switch up your routine. Another advantage to swimming and other water aerobics is that they burn more calories per hour than distance running.
Rowing primarily utilizes your upper body. Therefore, you will not be putting as much stress on your knees. This does not mean that you can avoid a proper warm up and stretching. Stretching and warming up are an imperative part of a good, safe workout.
One huge benefit of rowing is that it allows you to get out in the world and take in the view from a river or lake. If you do not have a river or lake nearby, consider investing in a rowing machine, or using one in a nearby gym.
Biking is another activity that encourages you to get some fresh air, though a biking machine also works well. Biking allows you to move your joints smoothly and helps protect your body from too much wear. In order to best prevent runner’s knee your bike must fit you correctly. Have a professional help you adjust your pedals to the correct length for your leg. This will help prevent over extension.
For any of these activities, proper warm up and stretching can’t be emphasized enough. Use gentle exercises to warm up before you stretch. This will help prepare your muscles and make them more flexible. Stretch again when you have completed your routine and be sure to cool down. Do not stretch to the point of pain–you will only cause damage. If your knee, or any other joint, begins to bother you, slow down and stretch. Work up to your routine, train and strengthen your muscles. The stronger they are, the less likely you are to get runner’s knee.