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3 ways to work around knee pain

Don't let cranky, achy, stiff, and or dull knees make you skip your leg day.

Knee pain is often described as annoying, uncomfortable, irritating, and frustrating.


This is often a common theme of people that I have worked with. They describe the frustration of feeling stiff in the morning, how annoying it can be to get to the gym all ready to get after it, and your knees seem to be holding you back.


The knee pain you are describing doesn't have to hold you back any longer.


Knee pain is often assumed to be a crutch that you may think you have to live with, and won't be able to escape. Like most things however, there is a solution, you just have to know where to find them.


Lucky for you, you have me!


Here are 3 potential solutions you can use to work around knee pain. So that you can continue to hit great leg days and not loose a step in your progress.


These solutions can be great for the former competitive athlete turned adult recreation league all star, or the mom that wants to relieve her youthful self by getting stronger.


Before we get started on the good stuff, I do have to say one thing.


I am not a physical therapist or medical practitioner. If you do find yourself with chronic severe knee pain and it is impacting you daily life, consider getting it looked at by a physical therapist or medical provider. If you need help finding one that can help you, send me an email and I can steer you in the right direction.


Solution #1: Hook lying hamstring bridge


In a previous post, I wrote about how important the stack is (you can read it here).


To summarize, the stack position puts your pelvis and ribcage on top of one another. This provides a better starting position for our bodies to move from. This includes everything from the neck all the way down to the ankle. And especially the knees.


This can be a great thing to include in your warm up before you start your leg day.


The biggest thing to get out of this is feeling your hamstrings. Those long muscles on the back of your legs. These muscles help to control and stabilize the knee so that it functions properly.


Here is a video example of the hook lying hamstring bridge.


Solution #2: Elevate your heels


This is one of my favorite ways that can help you not only make your knees feel better, but also get you to really feel your quads, and improve your squat. So its a win-win-win!


The heel ramps help to improve the following

  • Ankle mobility

  • Knee flexion

  • Maintaining a stack

  • Increase squat depth

All of these can help to take some pressure and stress off of the knees.


Here is what a heel elevated goblet squat looks like.

You can add heel ramps to any squat variation such as front squats, back squats, overhead squats, and even split squats. This is just one of the reasons why I find it such a versatile tool to have.


Solution #3: change your squat type


This one may seem obvious, but if you find your knees feeling uncomfortable or painful in a certain exercise, don't do that exercise.


Here is an example.


Back squats are a very common exercise for leg day gains. And rightfully so, they are a great exercise.


However, for some people, based on their body types, or specific needs, they may cause some discomfort.


This doesn't mean you shouldn't back squat. It may just mean you need to take a break from that specific squat variation.


Instead, consider swapping it out for a front squat or a safety squat bar squat.


The front squat and safety squat bar help us to maintain that stack position that I mentioned above. Which in turn, can help take some stress away from the knees.

The front squat puts in a more stacked position, versus the back squat which as a little bit more of a forward lean with the spine. Not that the forward lean is bad, but it is different and has the potential to put excessive stress on some peoples knees.


Below is a safety squat bar squat. If you lack the mobility to get the front rack position, or you want to feel something the resembles a back squat, this is for you.


These are 3 options for knee pain that I regularly use in my programs for my clients. These solutions have worked wonders for my clients of all ages. Those that are looking to train like an athlete again, those that are starting strength program for the first time, or the mom who wants to get back in shape.


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