Being injured sucks.
No one wants to be kept from training, competing or simply feeling healthy.
Back when I was still playing professional indoor football, I can remember the severe knee pain I had developed towards the end of my first season.
I had a nasty case of knee tendonitis and after games, I could barely bend or even straighten my left knee out for days!
I ended up getting some cortisone shots which helped, but that’s NEVER an answer to an injury.
Shots are only a short term cure.
The good news is, after I was done playing, I haven’t had any sort of knee pain since (KNOCK, KNOCK!)
Anyways, one of the main questions i receive on an almost weekly basis in regards to injuries is that on KNEE PAIN.
While I’m definitely NOT a knee pain expert or injury specialist at that, I do have some tricks up my sleeve to help deal with and train around knee pain.
So, if you have bad knees and are sick of not being able to train your hardest, these tips will help.
Here’s my top 7 tip on how to train around knee pain.
1) Do BACKWARDS Sled Drags – works the quads and helps strengthen patella tendinitis (jumpers knees).
Sled Drags also help supply just the right amount of resistance without the eccentric phase lifting which won’t over stress your knee, instead it’s only concentric (controlled stress only). Sled drags will help you strengthen up your knees and the muscles around your knees while also supplying you with some great conditioning as well.
I’d throw these into your sessions at least 2- 3 x’s a week if your struggling with knee pain.
Use a regular prowler sled or tire sled (I show you how HERE).
2) Do MORE TKE’s
Now, if you’ve never done “TKE’s” before, these are a great movement.
I first learned these from Eric Cressey and my man Zach Even-Esch and I’ve used them ever since.
In short, these are a great movement to help strengthen the muscles around the knee (mainly your vastus medialis or the “tear drop” muscle on your quad).
Also, if you have knee issues, TKE’s will help realign the joint through proper joint tracking and put the patella back intothe right spot.
I’ll do these before squat and lower body workouts just because… They work!
You’ll notice quickly that there’s a good little “pump” you get within the quads which will help you get the legs ready to crank out some lower body work.
If you’re knee’s a little stiff or sore, TKE’s will usually help alieviate those problems as well.
Try them out to see if they help reduce your overall knee pain.
3) Train you lower body with HIP DOMINANT Movements
If you got extremely bad knees, so bad to the point that any type of knee flexion causes pain, another option is to simply avoid knee dominant movements (squats, lunges, ect)
If you want to still hammer your legs, you can’t go wrong in selecting hip dominant movements either way as these movements tend to be people’s weaknesses.
My favorites Hip Dominant Movements include:
- KB Swings – Russian and American
- KB Cleans, KB or DB Snatches
- Romanian Deadlifts – both legs and single leg variations
- Barbell Good Mornings
The main thing with these is at least they’ll allow you to train the lower body plus, you’re more then likely NOT doing enough of these “back-side” movement anyways.
4) Your Squats SUCK so FIX EM!
I bet if you have typical knee pain, when you squat the 1st thing your knees do is shoot forward.
Seriously, get out of your chair right now and just do a squat for me real quick…
Where do your knees go first?
If they shot forward, we need to fix this problem ASAP…
Here’s a quick video with some explanation:
So, the quick points to help fix your squat are…
- Improve mobility to allow proper motion of squat (butt back more, shins vertical, chest up, knees out rather then forward)
- Use Box Squats and progress to loaded box squats or switch to Low Bar Back Squats in order to take stress off of the knees – these movements load the knee while keeping the shins VERTICAL. Where most knee pain occurs is when your knees track forward over your toes. That leads to lots of stress on your knee joint which leads to… PAIN.
5) Get a JACKED Upper Body
Got a bum knee and don’t care much about your lower body to begin with?
Why not just focus on getting a STRONG and Jacked upper body instead 😉
Not that I would ever recommend this 100% as I’m a FULL BODY / FUNCTIONAL / PERFORMANCE based training type of guy, but at least this will give you something to shoot for if lower body training gives you too much grief.
Set some bench press records, get good at doing muscle ups, go for 30 pull ups (strict), or how about 30 handstand push ups?
There’s a TON of upper body feats you could go after if your lower body training gets to be too much of a pain. Just find the good within the bad…
All of these are some SOLID upper body training goals you can shoot for that will help you get STRONGER and stay in the training game.
Now, I need to make it clear here that I’m NOT recommending you throw in the towel on fixing your knee pain, rather I’m offering you another option if all else fails.
If it does, just start working on the Gun Show…
6) High Intensity Cardio Options for Bad Knees
If getting or staying lean is of concern for you and you have high levels of knee pain and issues, a steady dose of high intensity intervals / cardio training will help you shred fat and stay lean.
If you have a bad knee, chances are you’re NOT going to be doing any type of hill sprints nor any type of sprinting at all.
There’s still some options…
- Recumbent Bike Intervals
- c2 Rowing Intervals (just depends on your level of knee pain)
- Sled / Tire Backwards Drags
- AirDyne Sprint Intervals
- Battling Rope Intervals
- Short Swimming Sprint Intervals
One of my FAVORITE cardio interval set ups is the good ol’ Tabata Protcol – 20 secs on with 10 secs rest. Just make sure the WORK interval is as INTENSE as you can make it.
7) Hammer the Muscles AROUND the Knee.
One thing you must understand about the knee joint is that it’s considered a “dumb” joint.
I remember my college Kinesiology Professor talking about this and finally I can see what he was getting at.
If you think about it, the knee joint is a bit of “dumb” joint in the fact that it’s limited to what the hip an ankle joints are capable of doing.
For instance, if you have tight hips or tight ankles, the knee will be limited in the range of motion and overall mobility it’s allowed to go through.
Same thing if you have tight muscles.
If your hammies, quads, and calves are extremely tight, having tight muscles surrounding your knee will have an effect on your knee joint by pulling it out of place.
A lot of times this can be the cause of knee pain.
So to fix this, a key focus needs to be put on improving the mobility of your hips and ankles as well as hammering your quads, hamstrings, calves, achilles, hip flexors, and your IT Bands with soft tissue work via a lacrosse ball or PVC pipe via foam rolling.
Here’s a quick video of “foam rolling” if you don’t know…
For stretching, focus in on your hammies and quads as those are the two that typically get real tight. Having tight quads and hamstring can mean big problems on your knees if you don’t focus in on loosening those babies up via stretching and soft tissue work.
So there you go.
7 different tips on how to train around knee pain.
While these might not be an end-all-be-all solutions to solving your knee issues for good, at least they’ll help you get back into training 110% H.A.M.
For a total solution on destroying your knee issues, I’d recommend checking out Rick Kaselj’s new program, Fix My Knee Pain.
I took a good look at this program is and it’s 110% LEGIT.
The best part about FMKP is that you can easily implement it into your current training program. There’s no need to stop what you’re doing now (unless it’s the cause of your knee pain of course)
Lots of POWERFUL stuff in here and I have no doubts the information contained within FMKP will definitely help you out with you knee issues.