By Brian Acton
Whether your knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis, a sports injury, or something else, it can make walking difficult and uncomfortable. Knee pain might make you want to avoid too much movement, but contradictorily the exercise can actually make your knee feel better in the long run.
Walking can help you rebuild knee joints, build muscles that support your knees, and lose excess weight that is putting extra pressure on your knees. And to stay healthy, it’s recommended you get at last 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a few days a week.
If you suffer from knee pain, you could benefit from a walking program. Here are some tips for getting started and walking with knee pain.
- Start Gradually
If you are usually sitting all day, you might not want to jump into long or brisk walks. When your body isn’t used to activity, walking too far or too fast could put you at risk of an overuse injury. You don’t have to go big at first - gradually increasing the speed or duration of your walks over time will help you build strength without wearing yourself out.
If you experience severe pain, instability that puts you at risk of a fall, or a sudden increase in swelling, stop for the day.
- Wear the Right Shoes
Walking shoes should be flat and flexible, with a wide toe box and a minimal drop in height from heel to toe. Avoid high heels, pointy toes, or heavy shoes that weigh your feet down - these can be unstable, unwieldy, and even dangerous when you have knee pain. If your shoes feel uncomfortable, unstable, or unsupportive, that may be a sign that you should invest in a new pair of walking shoes.
- Choose Softer Surfaces
When you’re walking, your feet are repeatedly striking a surface. Softer surfaces like dirt trails, a treadmill, or an asphalt path will be easier on your knees than a concrete sidewalk or hard floor like those found in shopping malls. Choose softer surfaces to lessen the impact on your knees.
- Schedule Your Walks Around Pain
If your knee pain and stiffness is worst in the morning, avoid putting too much stress on them early in the day. Instead, take your longer walks later in the day when you have fewer aches and pains.
- Lose Weight
Exercise and diet can help you lose weight, which is good for your knees. For every pound of excess weight you lose, you’ll put four less pounds of pressure on your knees. Less pressure on your knees can help reduce pain.
- Keep Moving
Don’t just go for one walk and then lay on the couch the rest of the day. You should be moving consistently every waking hour of the day to keep your joints moving and lessen the negative health effects of sitting.
- Wear Supports
Support gear like braces and wraps can be worn on the knee to help the wearer reduce and avoid knee pain. Supports like the Osteoarthritis Knee Brace can reduce mild to moderate knee pain and enable greater knee mobility. There are supports that are appropriate for sports injuries, arthritis knee pain, and post-surgery.