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Low-Impact Exercises to Save Your Knees

Low-impact exercises for people with joint pain.

Story by Jill Hilroy + Photography by Mike Ritterbeck

If you struggle with knee pain, you may assume that exercise is out of the question for you. This is not true at all. There are many exercises that those with knee pain can safely do, and many of these exercises can build up muscles that will actually help to support your knees over time. Here are some of theĀ best low-impact exercises for people with knee pain.


Try this workout: Stay strong, flexible & healthy

Leg Raises

Strengthening your quadriceps is an important part of reducing knee pain. Leg raises are an easy and fun way to get your quadriceps working and growing stronger. Lay on your back with one leg bent and the other straight out on the floor, then lift the leg that is straight into the air slowly. Release your leg back to the floor when you can’t hold it up anymore, rest and repeat.


Wall Squats

Wall squats offer the physical benefits of regular squats, only without putting excessive stress on your knees. Start by placing your back against a wall with your knees bent, which moves the pressure from your knees to your back and quadriceps. Hold that position for a few seconds, or as long as you are comfortable with, and repeat for your desired amount of reps and sets.


Calf Raises

Calf raises are one of the easiest exercises you could ever imagine, yet they are still highly effective at working many of your most important leg muscles in a way that won’t hurt your knees. You can do calf raises anywhere a slightly raised surface is present, such as the stairs in your home. Start by placing both feet on the raised surface, with your heels hanging off the edge and the balls of your feet planted firmly on the surface. Simply stand on your toes while raising your heels, then release back to the starting position. Once you’re comfortable doing this with both feet at the same time, you can move on to doing calf raises with one leg at a time.


Go for a Swim

Swimming puts very little stress on your knees and is such a fun workout that you’ll look forward to it each day. As you move your legs in the water, your joints will be strengthened, making them more capable of supporting your knees. Swimming is also great for flexibility, which is important when it comes to keeping your knees healthy.


As you can see, there are a lot of great exercise options that won’t cause any discomfort in your knees, all while building the leg strength you’ll need to keep your knees feeling healthy for years to come. By taking time as often as you can to do some calf raises, wall squats, leg raises or to go for a swim, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise without irritating knee pain.

Judy Mattoon is enjoying her recent retirement status after having spent 20 years as a speech and language pathologist in the Beaufort County school system. She is an avid tennis player, barre class participant and book club fanatic. In addition to these hobbies, she currently serves as a board member for the non-profit Public Tennis, Inc. as treasurer and Junior Team Tennis League coordinator.