Pilates for Bad Knees: Your Ultimate Guide 

Pilates & Chronic Pain (1)

Knee injuries are some of the most common orthopedic conditions. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise; Your knees are major weight-bearing joints. And we use them a lot. 

The knees are used to walk, run, sit, stand, and much more. As a result, these joints undergo varying amounts of stress and strain throughout your lifetime.

Yet, Pilates offers various exercises to avoid knee surgery, as well as prevent and lessen knee pain. For instance, osteoarthritis is a common condition that causes knee pain. But by strengthening the muscles around the knee, the symptoms of osteoarthritis – including pain – may be reduced. 

So, what are some injury prevention exercises that can help prevent and ease knee pain? Where should you start?

Injury Prevention Exercises & Pilates Exercises for Your Bad Knees

The key to not aggravating an already existing condition, especially when it comes to the knees, is to stick to low-impact exercises. Pilates is just that. With a variety of options, it allows you to still be able to perform physical activity and strengthening exercises – without pain or fear of aggravation. 

The following 4 exercises offer easy options to ease into Pilates, despite any knee pain. These exercises also strengthen muscles around the knee, providing support and stability to the joint.

1. Clams

Clams target your outer thigh muscles. These muscles support your knees laterally and provide stability and balance. Start slow with this exercise. And don’t push it. This means not raising your knee to the point of pain. 

Here’s how you do it:

Lie on your side on a comfortable surface, such as a mat. Slightly bend your knees – about 45 degrees, not to a full 90-degree bend. Keep your legs one on top of the other. Lift your heels off the ground. Keeping your bottom leg where it is, lift your top leg to open up the knees. Keep your heels together throughout this movement. And make sure to squeeze your glutes as you do this. Further, make sure your hips to fall backwards. Slowly close, and repeat for about 10-15 repetitions.

2. Inner Thigh Circles

The inner thigh muscles also help stabilize and provide balance to the knees. But these muscles are frequently neglected, leaving them weak. Strengthening them can help relieve some pressure off the knees. 

Here’s how you do it:

Lie on your side. Bend your top leg, and plant your foot on the ground in front of you. Lift your bottom leg up and off the ground. Lift it high enough that it almost touches your top knee. Perform 5 leg lifts, then hold the leg up and perform 10 circles in each direction. And don’t forget to switch sides after you’re done.

3. Straight Leg Raises

The quads support the front of the thigh. They are also important in gait motions, as well as supporting the knee during squatting or sitting movements.

Here’s how you do it:

Lie face up and lean back on your forearms. Keep your chest open and your abdominals engaged. Squeeze the thigh and lift the leg straight up. Hold for about 2-5 seconds, then slowly lower. Repeat about 10-20 times per leg.

4. Shoulder Bridge

For this exercise, you may choose to use an exercise ball as opposed to a rolled up towel. This is also an excellent exercise for hamstring strength prevention, as it targets and strengthens the hamstrings and glutes. Bonus: It also strengthens your inner thighs again. 

Here’s how you do it:

Lie face up. Position the towel or exercise ball in between your knees. Your knees should be bent with your feet planted on the ground. Squeeze the ball or towel and lift your hips up and off the ground. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings during this process as well. Hold for a few seconds at the top and then slowly lower. Repeat 10-15 times.

Other Things to Note

  • If pain occurs, stop the exercise. Only go to the point before pain. 
  • If you can’t perform 10-15 reps, start with 5. Everyone starts somewhere!
  • Don’t forget to stretch and elongate the muscles worked. Tight muscles may aggravate your knee pain further. Stretch after you perform the above exercises.

Maintaining a healthy weight is further an important part in injury prevention and injury prevention exercises. Excess weight puts more stress and pressure on the knees. This can aggravate them and create “bad knees.” 

If you want more info on how Pilates can help with your bad knees, contact Reform Studios today. Find the right class that works for you and your body. 

Sign up for your first class FREE today.

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