Should You Exercise If Your Knees Hurt? The Answer Will Surprise You

Should You Exercise If Your Knees Hurt? The Answer Will Surprise You

Knee pain makes everything more complicated. Just getting out of bed and getting dressed for the day can become a wearying struggle when your knees throb.

It’s tempting just to stay put when you experience this kind of discomfort.


Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage and even reduce knee pain. Eight weeks of daily exercise can significantly reduce knee pain in individuals with osteoarthritis.

So even if your aching knees beg you to stay on the couch, get up and get moving to control and combat your knee pain.

The Cost of a Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle leads to reduced physical function. In short, spending too much time inactive can make problems such as knee pain worse.

In addition to its adverse effects on joint pain, sedentary life is linked to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other ailments. Therefore, being active is clearly preferable from a health standpoint.

The Benefits of Aerobic Exercise for Knee Pain

Aerobic exercise provides proven benefits, including joint pain management. In addition, activities such as swimming, walking, bike-riding, Zumba, and using an elliptical machine increase mobility and help prevent obesity, a condition that can worsen knee pain and other physical ailments.

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, involves increasing the heart rate and respiration for the duration of the activity. It provides cardiovascular benefits in addition to body weight control and increased mobility.

The Benefits of Strengthening Exercise for Knee Pain

Studies reveal that a program of regular strengthening exercise reduces joint pain by 35% and leads to a 33% increase in lower limb strength. Activities that build the muscles in the legs, hips, and glutes are especially beneficial, allowing these muscles to support your knees better.

The Benefits of Stretching for Knee Pain

Stretching exercises are another highly effective weapon in the arsenal for combating knee pain. Stretching increases a joint’s flexibility and range of motion. Therefore, exercises that focus on increasing flexibility of the lower limbs are especially advantageous in helping curtail knee pain.

The Benefits of Tai Chi for Knee Pain

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese discipline combining martial arts, breath control, and mindfulness practices. Tai Chi has proven to be effective in managing joint pain. 

Tai Chi practice involves slow, controlled motions to increase strength, flexibility, and balance and provides multiple health benefits.

How to Keep Moving Even When You’re In Pain

It’s not easy to force yourself to exercise when you’re experiencing physical pain, especially if that pain is in your knees, which are involved in just about any form of physical activity.

Here are a few tactics to consider in making it easier to remain active even when in pain.

  • Try a knee sleeve, the effective hybrid of a knee brace (minus the clunkiness) and a knee wrap (but offering actual support).
  • Make sure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients in your diet. If not, you might consider some supplements. Look for those that contain C-1 digestible collagen, selenium, Boswellia, turmeric, and ginger.
  • Try applying hot and cold compresses to your knees to reduce swelling and temporarily numb pain.
  • Consider consulting a licensed massage therapist.


Knee pain is a formidable opponent, but regular exercise can help you defeat it while keeping you healthy and active in the process.