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Workout ideas for bad knees?

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I'm trying to find workout ideas for bad knees.  I just started excercising regularly a few weeks ago and I'm already getting tired of the treadmill, arc trainer, and elliptical.  My knees are bad enough that I can't do a step class, spinning, lunges, or squats (the last time i did lunges and squats, I couldn't walk the next day)  Please help!!!
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walking, swimming, yoga, pilates, all low impact. 

Or to make things interesting, letterboxing, mall walking, sacvengar hunting....

Best Wishes, Geo
Swimming is great exercise and low impact. 

Go for that option
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Hi!  I can relate to your bad knees... mine are terrible!  I 've had surgery on my left one once(1992) and 3 on my right one (1994, 2000, 2001).  The doctor told me the next time I needed surgery they'd both be replaced.  I'm not really looking forward to that.  :(

Since that last surgery I've been place on permanent restrictions.  No climbing, crawling, stooping, squatting, kneeling,etc.  That stinks, especially since I have a degree in Physical Education and have active all my life!  For a long time I became very lazy and felt like I just couldn't do anything.  Bad mistake!  I put on an extra 25-30 pounds because I was feeling sorry for myself.  I've just recently decided to set some goals for myself again and weight control and exercise is the key to weight loss for me.  I don't refer to it as dieting, rather a lifestyle change.

My life has definitely changed, but I'm learning to deal with it.  I swim (not very often) but really enjoy pilates and yoga a lot.  I try to walk every other day on the treadmill (25-30 minutes) and do pilates or yoga the other days.  It takes getting use to, but it's better than getting so heavy that I won't be able to walk!

Hope things get easier for you.  Hang in there... it WILL get better!
We just got a recumbent exercise bike, specifically because it is zero impact on the knees.  I LOVE IT !!!! I don't have to stop because my knees hurt, anymore!!
I agree with dwetter!  My knees aren't quite that bad but when I first tore the cartilage in my early twenties my ortho surgeon basically told me not to do anything that "might" re-injure my knee.  That just lead to me being out of shape and my knees/leg muscles getting weaker and weaker. 

I've made a pact to strengthen my knees this year.  I'm working with a trainer and have discussed that I want to build muscle mass in my legs to support my knees.  I also went over what causes my knees to tear cartilage as best I could.  The strength in my legs has greatly improved since Nov when I began.  I am doing squats and lunges that I couldn't do for 15 years!  It hurt at first, but I just made sure my positioning was correct (trainer helps) and that my movements were very controlled.  I don't rush on anything I do.  I don't do any aerobic type of quick movements. 

My point is that if you don't use it, you lose it.  Even if you have problems, there is still a chance that you can strengthen for better support.  I am amazed at what a couple of months of weight training has done for me!  I was an athlete like dwetter and my docs always say that I've worn out my body, but I wonder what he tells folks who never exercise????  It was depressing for a long time, when I was told not to do the things that I loved.  I'm taking control of my health and my life now and I don't always follow doctors orders.  Food for thought!

Good luck!

I had a knee injury that gave me trouble, and was in fact getting worse, for three years.  When it got to the point that I was having difficulty getting up from chairs (I was only 28!), I took my mother's suggestion and started taking glucosamine chondroitin and doing yoga.  After a couple months, the pain was gone, and I had more flexibility.  After a few more months, you'd never even have known I'd injured it.  I've been fine ever since, stopped taking the glucosamine after about 18 months - though I'm going to go back on it now that I'm hitting the gym almost daily.
Depends on what your problem is as to what advice you need to follow.  You may want to consult with a doctor or physical therapist. 

As someone who has had a knee problem in the past, however, what worked for me was strength training.  My leg muscles needed to be properly strengthened to support my knee, and now, no more pain.  I started with machines, because they place less stress on the knees, and learned some variations on the leg press that work different parts of the quads.  I also focused on hamstrings.  Once the legs are stronger, the squats and lunges shouldn't hurt the knees anymore, or at least that is how it worked out in my case.
Elliptical machine!!
My knee problem is Osgood-Schlatter's.  Anyone else on this thread have the same condition?  It stems from an inflamed growth plate on the tibia as opposed to muscular imbalance.  Oh, and it hurts like hell.  Has anyone dealt with a similar condition?  So far, 'suck it up' doesn't seem to be working.
Uh, talk to a doctor?  If they recommended to "suck it up" and it ain't working, then, uh, find another doctor?
I have Osgood-Schlatter's also.  I had surgery when I was 24.  I am now 37.  It is back.  What generally works is ice and elevation.  After a good work-out.  I ice it for about 15 minutes.  I bought a wedge pillow and I prop my leg while sleeping. 
Thanks redhot.  I had a seperate post on the same issue but didn't get too much feedback.  Did you ever get an explanation about how you can still have an inflamation of the growth plate at 24 (or 37)?  I've only had this since I was about 21, but it shows no signs of going away.  I've been considering surgery because of the persistence and it limits my workouts (no marathons or squats), but the orthopedists says to wait for another 1-2 years to ensure that growth has stopped.  Ok, that's a long way of saying, can you please tell me more?  Thanks.
When I had the syrgery, The doctors told me there was a possibility of it coming back.  I won't have to surgery again unless it really limits my mobility.  One good product I have found the works reallly well is BioFreeze.  You can only get it from a chiropractic.  It is amazing.  Also, I never do squats or a marathon:).  I am going to walk the Army Ten-miler in October.
About Osgood -Slagters

I was in a whole lot of pain for quite a while.  Went to local doctors and was basically told there is a time in a man's life where he has to give up f8@#ing and football...literally.  So I discontinued alot of physical activity.

A few months later when I was in Houston I took the opportunity to see the former team physician for the Houston Oilers.  He gave me a few stretches to do and now I am back to squating.  I won't say that I am completely pain free but it is very manageable.
Thanks again, redhot.  And troyambert, what were the stretches?  I can grit my teeth and finish a set of squats, but only by limping most of the next day.  Ice (advil, etc.) dull the pain, but don't make it any easier to squat, take stairs, etc.  Discontinuing physical activity only helped me gain about 5-10 pounds.  Thanks.

BTW, the former team physician of the Oilers?  I'm originally from around Houston; I loved the Oilers.  That's awesome.
Redhot and Jhedrick,

Could you tell me more about Osgood-Schlatter's? I have a long history of right knee problems, following a tibial plateau fracture back in 1998...I am now almost 32, and have dealt with chronic pain off and on over the years. I currently have: a bone spur, inflamed fat pad, possible arthritis, and chrondomalacia. I am seeing an orthopedic dr., who gave me Hyalgan injections that did not help a bit. They only caused a hematoma and more pain from the injections themselves! I am also starting to see a chiropractor.

Both my PT and the PA who administered my Hyalgan injections believe I have an inflamed fat pad. I also have some snapping above my patella, which just started. I believe I might have 're-inflamed' my knee several months ago (prior to that, I had not had pain in three years, and prior to that, I'd had chronic issues off and on for five years) using my elliptical machine rather obsessively. My chiro. just told me yesterday she doesn't like ellipticals b/c they force the body to move in a way that isn't natural, and could put more pressure on the knees.

I am curious to know if I could have something similar to Osgood-Schlatter's. I return to my OS in less than a month, but I'd love to know more about your experiences, how you got diagnosed, what you do for exercise on a daily basis, and what your pain feels like.

I have stiffness, achiness, the feeling of my right leg being shorter than the left. I have trouble standing and walking for very long most days, but I still exercise (in water, on stat. bike, and using rower w/out moving legs much) as much as possible to maintain SOME semblance of strength in my right leg--which is very wasted compared to the left.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Stories to share?
I second michellew.  I had bad knees all through high school and playing sports every day practically killed me...walking up four flights of stairs to math class was PAINFUL.  I strengthened my knees by spending 30 minutes after practice each day on the exercise bike and lifting for my quads.  My knees have rarely hurt since then (although cramped spaces still get to them)...and I got some killer quads.  good luck!
Water aerobics is a great way to get a work out with little to no impact on the joints. The water adds cousioning and protection. There are usually high, low and medium impact. there are also deep water classes which have little to no impact {most have you where a flotation belt}.

the Y where I take water aerobics also offers classes specially designed for those with arthiritis or other joint issues.l

as some one mentioned swimming and yoga are also low impact. Tai Chi is another one that is great for stretching, balance and stregnth.  so is Slow lifting, where you life the weights as slow and controled as possible focusing more on the motion than on teh number of reps. It can help build up strentgh in weak areas. {work with a trainer at the start to get the correct form and technique}

check with your local Y or other health club, there are often many classes available for people who have health issues.  Soem times strenthening cerrtain mucscles or groups of muiscles can also imporove joint health and allow you to do more for longer. Check with your dcotor depending onthe issue.
i have had 6 surgeries on my left knee starting at age 15/16 and went almost every two years after that........ still have much pain in that left knee. the last time i went to ortho surgen he said that the other docs had wrong i am very double jointed and because i do not have the normal stops in my joints it tends to wear the catilage out. i can not do lunges as they can injur my knee badly but at one point in pt i was given spacific exercises to strengthen all the muscels that support the knee i am now trying to find that list again as they really did help so i would also suggest speaking to a doctor or therapist, keep trying until you find one that doesn't just say suck it up ........... chances are they haven't got a clue
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