Pilates is excellent for pain control and pain reduction, and many people know that it has a great influence on back problems.
Because it is so gentle and low impact, many people ask:
Is it suitable for those with knee pain and can it resolve some common knee issues?
Is pilates good for knee pain?
Certain Pilates exercises can strengthen your knee and increase its mobility without applying pressure on the joint itself. Of course, if you are recovering from a knee injury, make sure that your doctor gives you a green light to start with workout.
To know more about why is Pilates good for knee pain and which exercises to practice, read the following chapters:
Should you Exercise With Knee Pain?
Knee pain can be caused by a lot of factors.
Some of you may have suffered an injury, while others may have some medical condition that affects joints. And naturally, as you get older, your joints deteriorate.
Before you start any workout program, including Pilates, you should consult a doctor to find out the cause of your pain.
Not every pain is the same, and depending on a cause, you will know what exercises to avoid. Some activities can cause pain to increase.
In general, exercising with knee pain is advisable, to strengthen the surrounding muscles and reduce pressure on joints.
Strong muscles will stabilize the knee and eventually reduce pain.
Additionally, certain exercises will increase knee mobility and that will have a beneficial effect in the long run. Being able to make full motion with your joints reduces the possibility of further injuries and pain.
In some cases, exercising with knee pain is not advisable. That is mostly when you have an active injury that did not heal. If you do it, you are risking even larger injury and longer recovery period.
Also, those with sensitive joints should avoid high-impact activities and exercises. Applying pressure on a painful knee will cause enhancement of existing problems.
Is Pilates Good for Knee Pain? And Why?
In general, Pilates is excellent for knee pain.
However, there are some exercises to avoid, and I will mention those in the following chapters.
Pilates is a low impact activity and exercises can be chosen, and modified if necessary, to meet your specific needs. There is almost no pressure on joints.
If you have a painful knee, your goal should be to strengthen the surrounding muscles because those are used to “hold” the knee.
Knees are load bearing joints that support our weight. If you rely solely on the joint and have no muscle to support it, pain will appear sooner or later.
Another benefit is mobility and flexibility of the joint, and these two are connected.
Depending on your knee condition, you may even practice only those exercises that have no impact on the joint, and those are the exercises done in a lying position, on the mat. This is advisable if you have a serious condition.
Can Pilates Help Knee Arthritis?
Arthritis is one of the problems that affects a lot of people. Ass the time goes by, the condition usually gets worse, however, you can slow down the process and partially control the outcome with exercise.
Arthritis can cause stiffness, swelling and pain in joints. Naturally, if the joint hurts you are going to move it less than before, lose muscle strength, and because you are avoiding certain motion, you will reduce your knee mobility too.
To avoid this scenario, you can start practicing Pilates.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a magical activity, but it is great for arthritis because, as I already said, It doesn’t put pressure on joints while it strengthens the muscles.
There are many doctors that encourage their patients to start Pilates exercises. Of course, you should avoid lifting weights and choose exercises that are gentle and slow.
There are studios and instructors all over the world who offer medical Pilates programs. It would be great to sign up to learn the basics, before you start your workout routine at home.
For arthritis, it is important to take care of your ligaments and cartilage that surround the painful joint.
Pilates is excellent for that as it doesn’t add any load or impact.
Pilates improves circulation, and that helps the tissue around sore and stiff joints.
Which is the Best Pilates Exercise for Knee Pain?
There are various Pilates knee exercises for bad knees, and pointing out just one is impossible.
To improve your knee condition, you have to strengthen the surrounding muscle groups, and there are three great exercises, suitable for most people, that target different muscles.
CIRCLES FOR INNER TIGHS
Strengthening inner thighs is important. One of the easiest ways to do so is to do circles for inner thighs.
To do this, lie on the mat, on your side. Bend your upper leg and place the foot on the mat in front of you.
Lift your straight bottom leg of the ground as high as you can. You are going to feel your inner thigh muscles activate. Make 5 circles with this leg in one side, and 5 in the other.
If that is too hard, just lift it, hold for a few seconds and lower again. Repeat 10 times.
Do this exercise on both sides.
RAISING STREIGHT LEGS
To stabilize and strengthen the knee, you should work on your front thigh. This will make common activities, like standing up or sitting down on a chair easier.
To perform this exercise, lie on your back and lean onto your forearms. This should also activate your abdominal muscles. Make sure you do not “sink” into your shoulders. Open up the chest.
Keep your legs straight. Activate your thigh and lift one leg up. Hold a few seconds and lower it. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
This exercise is great for strengthening outer thigh which has a great influence on lateral support, knee stability and balance.
To do it, lie on top of the Pilates mat, on your side. Bend your knees a little. About 30 to 45 degrees bend is enough. Avoid 90-degree bend as it can be painful. You will eventually get there, but this is a starting point.
Legs should be stacked on top of each other. Lift the heels of the ground. Keep the lower leg in place and do not move it or change the position.
Lift the upper leg to open the knees while you are keeping the heals touching each other. That is why it is called the clam. It resembles clam opening.
Contract your glutes while doing it. This exercise targets your gluteal muscles to and having strong and supportive glutes is important for proper posture which is also useful for knees.
While doing it, your hips should fall backwards. Do this motion slowly and in a controlled way. Open up just as much as you can without feeling any pain. Do it 10 times with one leg, and 10 times with the other one.
What Exercises Should I Avoid With Bad Knees?
As already mentioned, any exercises that has a high impact, such as running, should be avoided. Also, avoid lifting heavy loads, such as weights. If you want to add some resistance, use elastic bands while doing exercises that have no joint impact.
Other exercises to avoid are the following, and those are not just Pilates exercises:
• Deep squats
• Any kind of deep stretches that involve knees
• Full arc knee extensions
• Any kind of cardio exercise that involves impacts, such as jumping jacks
If you practice these, you are risking further injuries. Those with arthritis can expect their pain and stiffness to worsen.
Depending on your knee condition and diagnosis, when you strengthen your muscles by doing easy exercises, you can reach a fitness level and joint health which will enable you to perform the exercises stated here, however that should be a slow process, monitored by a doctor or an experienced Pilates instructor.
My Story: Is Pilates Good for Knee Pain? For me: YES!
I wrote a lot of theory here, but is Pilates good for knee pain and how can I be so sure?
As a long-distance runner, hiker, and an outdoor enthusiast, I used my knees a lot. All those activities are high impact and after many years, my knees started to show signs of weakness and pain.
Naturally, I wanted to resolve these issues to be able to continue practicing those activities.
My knee problem was actually a teared meniscus. For that, I needed surgery. After the surgery, the healing process started.
To get in shape again, the doctors advised me to avoid high impact activities, and recommended muscle strengthening and working on a knee mobility.
Pilates seemed as a logical choice for that. Some time after the surgery, I started with short and light exercises. When improvement was noticed, I started doing more and more exercises and those workout sessions were longer.
Now, I am able to run and hike again, but I continued practicing Pilates on a regular basis, to strengthen my muscles, improve mobility, and increase flexibility to reduce the possibility of future injuries.
For me, Pilates is a great addition to high impact activities because it helps you restore your joints and enables you to enjoy other activities without pain.
So, in the end, is Pilates good for knee pain?
Yes, it is, but only if you perform exercises which are suitable for your condition, and if you are cleared to do so by your doctor.
Pilates can significantly improve your knee strength and range of motion, without applying direct pressure on your joints.
To reach your goal and maintain it, you should exercise regularly and try not to skip any practice.