How to Enjoy Walking When You Have Knee Pain
Walking is an excellent low-impact, aerobic exercise because it can be done at a pace that’s just right for you regardless of your age. If knee pain is part of the equation, however, you may have some concerns about strolling through your neighborhood with a loved one, taking your cherished four-legged buddy for daily walks, or enjoying the sights as seasons change. The good news is that most people with mild or moderate knee pain can still go for walks if the right precautions are taken.
Wear the Right Shoes
First of all, when you walk, wear shoes specifically designed for walking. You also want to opt for footwear that’s flexible, flat, and supportive. For times when you’ll need to walk at work or in social situations, avoid shoes with excessively high heels or pointy toes.
Warm Up First
There are two ways you can prepare your knees for walking. One way is to do some simple stretches to loosen up the ligaments, tendons, and muscles that support your knees. Another way is to apply heat to the affected part of your knee with a heating pad or heating gel to boost circulation before you start walking. You may also appreciate taking a warm bath after you get back from your walk.
Go Slow and Steady
Whether you are new to regular walking as a form or exercise or you are recovering from a recent knee procedure, take things slow and steady. You might, for instance, start with short, casual walks around the block or within your immediate area. If you need to, take some breaks to sit down on a bench, especially if you experience an uptick in pain. You can also break your daily walking into segments. This could mean going for a short ten-minute walk in the morning and adding another 10-15 minute walk later in the day.
Stick to Soft, Flat Walking Surfaces
Walking is far less impactful than running or jogging. Still, hard surfaces or steep hills can place too much stress on knee joints already affected by inflammation or cartilage deterioration. Look for natural surfaces with dirt or gravel. Paths like this might be a little uneven, but the softer foot impacts are better for your knees. If you prefer to walk on flatter, even surfaces, opt for asphalt over concrete.
When determining how much walking you can do with knee pain, consider the source of your discomfort. If your pain is related to osteoarthritis, walking at a pace that’s comfortable for you can help lubricate joints and improve your mobility. However, if your knee pain is severe or related to another underlying issue, you may benefit from a combination of short walks and other forms of exercise that don’t place too much stress on your joints, like water-based activities or certain types of yoga.