Fitness: Exercises & recovery tips for bad knees or chronic pain (repost)

Exercise is imperative for those who suffer from ailments like arthritis. Like me. I’m a forty-something female with arthritis in the knees from repeated injuries due to hyper-mobility. Mobility at the best of times can be challenging. When you’re in pain, sometimes the last thing you want to think of is exercise. But trust me when I say – exercise is necessary for maintaining joint health.

Here is a great video on what exercises to avoid if you have bad knees. I can’t do full squats and lunges. I also can’t do a lot of high impact training like runners do. But you can cheat – and perform exercises at your own comfort levels without re-injuring yourself. This is why my go-to exercises are those I can do while sitting or lying down.

Avoid exercises that can strain your knees like jumping. Jumping is especially hard on joints if you have a weakened or torn ligament.

Water Aerobics

Water fitness is always the first thing I recommend to people with joint issues. Even though I haven’t been to an Aqua Fit class in a few years – I can still remember the feeling after a great workout in the water.

There are many exercises that can be done in the water. In my area, there are classes like water zumba, water aerobics, shallow fit (shallow water), deep water fit, and more. I have not tried the zumba classes as I lack the coordination.

My first water fitness class reminded me of hours spent in the pools at the hospital after my knee surgery. All I can remember is how much it hurt to do the exercises. Water therapy is still used today in the medical field – but let me tell you, surgery is not nearly as primitive as it was when I had my knee “fixed” in the 80’s.

Benefits of water fitness:

  • It is low impact and great for seniors
  • Water fitness can target the whole body
  • Being in warm water can help stiff or sore joints
  • Water fitness can be extremely fun and social

Since some of the water fitness classes are geared for seniors, it was sometimes difficult to find classes that were close to my and worked for my schedule. It was also challenging to find a partner to go the class with. I really want to get back into classes and am hoping to find a pool near me in the fall.

I can tell you from personal experience – that following these classes, sitting in the steam room and hot tub was a great way to clear up my sinuses. And the moment I got home after a good shower, I crawled into bed and had the best sleeps of my life.

If you don’t have access to public classes, or you live in a building that has a private pool – there are exercises you can do on your own.

Resistance Training

I love resistance training. It’s something you can do while lying or sitting down. This is a workout that I often do at the end of the day before going to bed. Using a resistance band, helps to stretch out the muscles and loosen them up.

I have several resistance bands at home that I use. But be careful – these suckers can be deadly. Wearing shoes can help hold the grip of the rubber bands. The danger here is that they can easily snap off your foot and whack you in the face. I speak from personal experience here. Trust me on this one. That really hurts.

Resistance bands can workout the entire body. There are some classes on YouTube designed to help target specific areas like abs or legs. What I loved about resistance training is that is feels good on the joints. It really helps to strengthen my knee – and this is something I’ve been doing since physio therapy in the 80’s.

Chair Workouts

Don’t let the notion that a chair workout isn’t effective. I have personally tried several of these workouts and when performed correctly, I was sweating by the end of them. There are chair exercises designed for all ages and fitness levels.

The great thing about chair exercises is that sitting down can help take the pressure off your knees. You can still focus on your legs without hurting your knees.

Even though I’m not a Doctor Oz fan – this video is pretty good.


Following a good workout, the best thing to do with your bad knee is to either apply a cold pack or a hot pack and rest. A warm hot bath or a soak in the hot tub can also help loosen sore muscles and relief pain. I try to avoid taking over the counter drugs when possible. I save those for really bad days, like today – because of the rain. Yes, it’s raining again. Massage can also be helpful.

A lot of people swear by Epsom salt baths for DOMS recovery. This video explains the science behind how Epsom salt can help with pain.

YouTube Resources

YouTube is a fabulous place to learn new exercises and try new routines. But please be careful. Not all trainers on the internet are certified trainers. Look for popular channels that have that verified blue check mark next to their name. While I have discovered a lot of smaller name channels that I really like – there are some channels that are my go-to for fitness advice.

For me, personality wins me over more than content. If the trainer is likable and explains things clearly – I will definitely subscribe. Nothing irritates me more than clicking on a lazy how-to video.

I’m looking at you WebMD. 

Here’s an example of a lazy how-to video. The music doesn’t even fit the video.

This is a pet peeve of mine especially when it comes to videos on how to cook something – or for recipes. While I can appreciate a professionally edited video with music, it’s not something I’m looking for in a tutorial video. I want to watch someone explain something to me. How it works. The science behind it. And then to show me how I can do it myself.

When looking for fitness resources on the web, look for a coach or trainer who has the professional credentials to back their advice up. Look for verified accounts. And look for great quality videos. If they don’t appear on the video themselves – run far, and run fast.

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