How to Stay Active with a Knee Injury

May 23, 2019

Recovering from a knee injury can sometimes be a slow process. It can put a damper on your workout routine especially if your injury resulted from a routine workout or team sport. For those that were active prior to their knee injury, we know how difficult it can be to focus solely on recovery. While it’s important to be careful and take it easy during your recovery period, there are still safe and effective ways you can stay active. 

What Exercise Can I Do With a Knee Injury?

There are a few ways to continue exercising as you recover from a knee injury. Options may include:

  • Upper Body Strength Training
  • Safe but Strenuous Activities
  • Cardio Focused Training

Upper Body Strength Training

Maintaining your base fitness level is possible by exercising parts of your body that don’t heavily rely on your leg strength. Push-ups, pull-ups, planks, bicep curls, and sit-ups are all great exercises that work various upper body muscles. Seated upper body-focused machines are a nice alternative to free weights for those with a gym membership. While you can work your upper body through bicep curls and shoulder presses without engaging your knees, carrying around free weights can be dangerous for someone with a knee injury.

Safe but Strenuous Activities

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also be able to participate in forms of exercise such as kayaking, bicycling, walking, or swimming while you are in recovery. Activities like swimming are low-impact and protect your joints, yet still offer a high calorie-burning workout. Before participating in any activities, you should always consult with your doctor to determine what exactly is safe for you to do. 

Cardio Focused Training

While you’re in recovery from your knee injury, create a series of exercises that get your heart rate up without putting stress on your knee, especially if your knee injury was considered mild. Warm up with a 10-minute walk or swim, or try the following exercises a few times a week to stay in shape:

  • Push-ups
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Side-lying leg raise (10 reps on each leg)
  • Overhead dumbbell press
  • Seated Russian twists

Even after you’re healed and cleared to work out at a normal pace, it’s important to ease back into your regular routine. Don’t be afraid to make modifications to certain exercises and make sure you stretch or foam roll after each workout.

How Can I Prevent Future Knee Injuries?

Strengthening your knees and the surrounding muscles is the most important thing for preventing future knee injuries. Once you have recovered from your initial injury, you can begin to focus on strengthening those muscles. Those with knee pain should aim to keep their lower body muscles strong and mobile because avoiding exercise altogether can weaken your lower body and cause even more pain in your knees. Professionals recommend focusing on single-leg exercises in order to ensure you aren’t compensating with your non-affected leg. 

Contact Campbell Clinic

Before you do any exercise after an injury, it’s wise to get approval and recommendations from your physician. Schedule an appointment at Campbell Clinic to develop a safe workout plan for your knee recovery.


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