Exercising With Bad Knees

For those who may or may not know, I have knee issues.  My left knee has been surgically repaired, with the left meniscus partially cut away as it was not repairable and the right meniscus surgically repaired after tearing both during a five kilometer run two years ago.  It was during that time that my surgeon discovered that I had a one inch circular hole in the articular cartilage in my left knee.  His words to me at that time was I would eventually need a knee replacement and I could run, but I would do so knowing the risks involved of further damage to the knee.  Fast forward to today and my left knee is giving me fits of occasional pain and now my right knee is beginning to hurt some as well when I exercise.  The weight I’ve gained back, along with the natural changes to my body as I grow older are not helping this to say the least.

So the question becomes, “How do I exercise to lose weight with the knee issues I have?”.  I know that there are some of you out there that have some of the same issues I do.  Been fat most if not all of your life, and now your body is paying the price.  Maybe it’s not your knee.  Maybe it’s another joint or joints that give you fits.  If so stay tuned as I will do other articles at a later date for the other joints and how to properly exercise with them. But for now, let’s talk about how to exercise with knee issues.

Knee Braces

One of the first things I want to discuss is using a knee brace.  Because of my knee issues, I am using a knee brace on each knee, though they are not the same type of brace.  For my left knee I am using the knee brace issued to me right after my surgery.  It is a hinged knee brace with metal on the outside and gives me the stability I may need while doing any exercise outside of swimming.  For my right now, I am using a neoprene knee brace, like the ones you would find at the drugstore or your nearest Walmart.  Everyone who has knee issues is different and you may or may not need a brace on either knee, but for me, I feel it’s a must have, given my prior history, current weight and strain I put on my knees.  I will say that if you feel you need one, talk to your doctor about it.  The plain neoprene may not be the best for you and your doctor might have a better one for you.


I hope that this sentence is redundant and you already know this, but before you do any exercise, whether it be cardio or weight training, stretch out and warm up!  This holds especially true for your lower body which yes, includes your knees.  So let’s take a look at some stretches just for the knees.

  • Chair knee extension: Sitting in a chair, rest your foot on another chair so the knee is slightly raised. Gently push the raised knee toward the floor using only leg muscles. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds and release.  Repeat four to six times per leg.
  • Heel slide knee extension: Lie on your back, with the right knee bent and the right foot flat on the floor. Slowly slide the left heel away from your body so both legs are parallel. Hold for 5-10 seconds, return to starting position.Repeat four to six times per leg.
  • Knee flexion: Sitting in a chair, loop a long towel under your foot (resting on the floor). Gently pull on the towel with both hands to bend the knee, raising your foot 4 – 5 inches off the floor. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds, then release.Repeat four to six times per leg.
  • Hamstring stretch: Standing, put one foot in front of you, toes up. With hands on the small of your back (or one hand holding a chair for balance), bend the opposite knee and hip (not your lower back), until you feel the hamstrings stretch. The upper body comes forward at the hip. Hold for 5 -10 seconds, then release.  Repeat four to six times per leg.


I’m splitting exercises into two groups, cardio and weight training.  I will not be giving the how to’s on these exercises; there are many websites out there that show the proper technique on how to do them.  However, if you cannot find a good one, comment on here and I’ll post links for you.

  • Cardio
    • Elliptical training
    • Stationary Bike
    • Road Biking
    • Walking
    • Swiming
    • Water Aerobics
  • Weight Training (Both body weight and with weights)
    • Wall Slide (for Quads)
    • Bent Knee Raises
    • Abductor Raises
    • Hamstring Curl
    • Seated Calf Raises
    • Standing Calf Raises
    • Lying Hamstring Curls
    • Leg Extensions
    • Lying Leg Extensions
    • Standing Broom Twists
    • Stiff Legged Deadlift
    • Barbell Squats


Because of the physical benefits of yoga, I am including it here.  I am not well versed in all aspects of yoga, so please know that I had to do my own homework with this section, so I can tell you that the following poses are supposed to be beneficial for those with knee issues.

Beneficial Poses

  • Chair Pose
  • Peaceful Warrior
  • Bridge Pose
  • High Lunge
  • Eagle Pose

Poses to Avoid

  • Camel Pose
  • Hero Pose
  • Twisted / Revolved Triangle
  • Lotus Pose
  • Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose


In conclusion, you can exercise, even with bad knees if you do it right and you do it within reason.  Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you didn’t get fat overnight.  This takes time.  So do this right with me and let’s make 2018 the year of your makeover with a healthier you.  Happy exercising!

Disclaimer: please, before doing any exercise that is discussed here, talk to your doctor and ensure you are healthy enough to do any exercise or fitness related activities discussed here or elsewhere.
By | 2018-01-03T22:00:52+00:00 January 3rd, 2018|Categories: Exercise, Fitness|Tags: , |1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Canuck Carl 7th January 2018 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Eric. I have had meniscus problems when I first started running 4 years ago, fortunately my knees have improved with some recovery and rehab. You have listed some excellent stretching and exercising suggestions. I am also not well acquainted with yoga, but I know people who have greatly benefited by it, and would like to incorporate it into my routine. Hoping your knees heal and get stronger.

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