By: Susan from Home Medical Reviews
These days, extreme workout programs like Crossfit are being touted as the best methods for losing weight and building muscle. These high-intensity workouts are not for everyone, though.
For one reason or another, many people are limited to low-impact programs.
If you’re in this group, you may feel turned off to exercise altogether and feel like you shouldn’t do anything if you can’t keep up with people doing extreme workouts.
Whether you’re working through a knee injury or suffering from arthritis-related joint pain, there are lots of low-impact workouts out there that can help you burn calories and get in shape. If you’re not sure where to start, consider one of the six options listed below.
6 Workouts for Those with Knee Pain
1. Barre Workouts
Barre workouts are a great option for people who are working through knee injuries. They’ll help you increase your lower body strength while also improving your range of motion.
Barre workouts involve traditional ballet movements like pliés, arabesques, and relevés to sculpt the body without heavy weights or high-impact exercises. There may be some small jumps involved, but you can always modify these to avoid putting extra pressure on your joints.
If you need to make the workouts more challenging, you can incorporate light weights, resistance bands, or weighted balls to increase the resistance and your calorie burn. This is definitely not required for you to feel the burn, though, and you’ll probably find that using just your bodyweight is difficult enough.
If you’re missing cardio exercises like running, cycling is a great, low-impact alternative.
Indoor cycling may be better for people dealing with knee pain since it’s easier to adjust the resistance to limit pressure on the knees. If you prefer outdoor cycling, though, just make sure you’re adjusting your gears as needed to get through hilly areas.
People who want to challenge themselves during a cycling workout can use intervals to switch things up. Tabata drills (20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest) are especially good for those who have a limited amount of time to exercise but still want to maximize their calorie expenditure.
Many people dismiss yoga because they think it’s too easy and can’t be effective for helping them burn calories or build muscle.
It’s true that some types of yoga, such as Yin yoga, are very gentle and won’t do much in terms of calorie burn. However, there are plenty of other styles, such as Bikram yoga or Ashtanga (power yoga) that are more intense and will definitely get you sweating.
Yoga is great for people who are recovering from knee injuries because there’s no jumping or high-impact movements involved.
Most yoga practices also focus on isometric exercises, which involve holding one position with the muscle contracted. These are easier for people with injuries, but they still tax the muscles and help build strength.
To get the most out of your yoga practice, make sure you’re really concentrating on what your body is doing. Don’t let yourself go on autopilot while your mind wanders.
The more you tune in, the more intense the practice will become, and you’ll be able to feel your muscles working. This will also decrease your risk of injury since you’ll be more aware of what your body is experiencing.
4. Swimming and Water Aerobics
Water workouts like swimming and water aerobics are great for people who want to exercise without putting pressure on their joints. Water is approximately 800 times denser than air, so it provides a ton a resistance and allows you to work your muscles in a pain-free way.
When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, swimming and other water workouts are the way to go. One reason for this is that, in many cases, people find that they can exercise longer in the water since their joints don’t hurt.
Because of the added resistance, water workouts also tend to burn more calories than other forms of exercise.
For example, a 2010 study found that people who swam three times a week during a six-month period lost more weight and saw a greater change in their cholesterol levels than those who performed a walking program for the same amount of time.
Pilates workouts are similar to barre workouts in terms of intensity and movement style.
However, pilates may be more inviting to people who are intimidated by the ballet-inspired nature of a barre class. Some pilates classes -- especially those that involve a reformer -- are also more tailored to people with injuries.
Pilates is especially good for strengthening the muscles around the knees, including the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. When these muscles are weak, your chances of injury increase.
The workouts also promote core strength, which improves balance and coordination. If you’re an athlete going through meniscus tear rehab, pilates will help you avoid the improper movement patterns that may have caused your original injury.
6. Kettlebell Workouts
If you want to burn calories while also building strength and improve your mobility, you may want to give kettlebell workouts a try.
Kettlebells are highly versatile weights that, when used properly, can help you burn almost as many calories as you’d burn while incline walking on the treadmill.
Kettlebell swings, one of the foundational exercises in a kettlebell workout, are particularly good for elevating the heart rate while also helping you build lean muscle.
Many people use kettlebells incorrectly and don’t get to experience all the benefits they have to offer. If you’ve never used a kettlebell before, work with a trainer to learn to use them properly.
Which of these workouts for knee injury sound good to you?
Low-impact workouts don’t have to be boring, and they definitely don’t have to hinder your ability to burn calories and build muscle.
If you’ve been feeling limited by a knee injury, give one of these six low-impact workouts a try today. There are lots of things you can do if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone!