That’s why it’s key if you have bad knees to visit a physical therapist who can help diagnose the issue – and therefore give you guidance on what leg exercises are safe to do and those to avoid.
For someone dealing with unresolved or lingering knee pain, a leg day workout packed with high-impact moves, squats, and lunges can be, well, a little scary. That’s because, according to Dr. Leada Malek, PT, DPT, CSCS, SCS, these exercises often cause discomfort for those with knee issues.
“Because the majority of workouts include these compound movements, it’s hard to find a series that can easily be done if your knees do have ongoing pain, especially if you aren’t familiar with the workout or what triggers your symptoms,” Dr. Malek added.
As long as you get it cleared by your doctor or PT, consider giving this leg workout created by Dr. Malek a try. It features exercises that work muscles – like the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, for example – that stabilize and strengthen the knee.
Before jumping into the workout, though, you’ll need to warm up. “Foam rolling is a great option for a warmup without overly stretching muscles that surround achy joints like the knees,” Dr. Malek said. “This can increase some blood flow to the muscles and improve flexibility and joint range of motion before jumping into a workout. Aim to target the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. These muscles all have an influence on the knee joint and can contribute to issues if they feel tight or are inflexible.”
Dr. Malek recommended aiming for 1-2 sets of 45 seconds on each muscle group.
During the workout, take rests as needed and stop if you experience any pain. Be sure to give yourself time to cool down after, too.