Masterful Knee Care: 5 Forbidden Exercises for Unleashing a Pain-Free Future

Injuries to the knee, discomfort in the knee, and the natural deterioration of the joints are commonly experienced by many individuals. It is important to take these factors into consideration when selecting your workouts.

James McMillian, a head coach at Tone House, a strength and conditioning gym in New York City, explains that there are various types of knee injuries that are commonly seen. These may include ACL tears, tendinitis, strains, arthritis, and more. Therefore, the appropriate exercises for knee health may vary depending on the specific issue at hand. However, there are certain types of movements that should generally be avoided for any type of knee injury.

Minky Kim, the founder and head trainer at Han Training in Chicago, advises that as a general guideline, "to alleviate general knee pain, it is advisable to avoid movements that exacerbate it." If you experience pain or notice swelling, it is recommended to refrain from engaging in the exercise that caused such discomfort.

Furthermore, there are specific exercises that are not recommended for individuals with knee problems. Here, experts provide insights into those exercises and suggest alternative options to consider:


While it may be obvious, it is crucial to avoid engaging in exercises that require jumping if you have a knee issue. According to Kim, activities with high impact can exacerbate general knee discomfort, particularly those involving explosive movements. Therefore, it is advisable to exercise caution when considering activities such as jumping jacks, skipping rope, jump squats, or any form of vertical leaping. They also emphasized that individuals who are enthusiastic about basketball or engage in activities demanding frequent jumping should steer clear of such movements.


Patrick Maloney, the head athletic trainer at the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine in New Orleans, expressed caution regarding impact running, which entails running on unforgiving surfaces. According to Maloney, individuals with knee issues should take note of the running surface they choose. Instead of running on concrete or sidewalks, he suggests opting for grassy or dirt areas.

It's important to bear in mind that running on a softer surface still exerts pressure on the joints, which can be uncomfortable. Maloney explains that running places significant weight on these areas. As an alternative, he recommends engaging in low-impact activities such as cycling or using an elliptical machine. These exercises offer the benefits of a good workout while minimizing stress on the knee joints.

For older adults dealing with knee problems, Maloney emphasizes the advantages of walking. Walking serves as a challenging workout, and it brings various benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease. Additionally, walking is conducive to positive mental health.


According to McMillian, individuals with knee problems face challenges when engaging in movements that involve twisting or pivoting, which can also lead to knee injuries. Activities such as dancing, martial arts, basketball, and football fall into this category. McMillian emphasized the importance of refraining from these movements until one develops sufficient knee stability and structure. The act of twisting and pivoting during such activities can disrupt the knee's traction, posing a risk of injury if the knee lacks stability while exercising. Unless wearing a knee sleeve or compression sleeve that provides stability during pivoting or directional changes, caution should be exercised when performing lateral movements like lateral shuffles, dancing, and lateral jumps—these movements should be avoided, as advised by McMillian.


McMillian cautioned against performing squats and lunges that put excessive strain on the knees, as it may pose potential risks, especially for individuals with previous knee injuries. He suggested opting for three-quarter squats initially to gradually build strength. Kim emphasized that sissy squats, involving a backward lean and lowering of knees while being on your toes, should be avoided by individuals experiencing knee pain.

As an alternative, Maloney recommended chair squats for those unable to perform traditional squats safely. During chair squats, one simply touches their buttocks to the top of a chair, rather than descending beyond the 90-degree angle. This modification helps regulate the depth of the squat, as explained by Maloney.


According to Maloney, it's best to steer clear of exercises like Olympic lifting or explosive lifting. For instance, lifting a barbell overhead or performing barbell squats or snatch lifts, which involve raising the bar from the ground and lifting it above your head. These types of movements are considered explosive.

Instead, Maloney suggests opting for a controlled weight machine at the gym. This alternative provides a lower impact on your joints.


Kim stated that many individuals experiencing joint pain opt for water-based exercises. These activities encompass water aerobics and aquatic workouts involving weights. Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology revealed that swimming can effectively alleviate joint pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis.

 By engaging in water exercises, the pressure exerted on the joints, especially the knees, is significantly reduced. The buoyancy of water allows for a sensation of floating and freedom of movement, alleviating the strain caused by gravity's impact.

 There are also several products available in the market that can provide knee protection. According to McMillian, knee sleeves are beneficial for stabilizing knee tracking and assisting the body in managing the impact and inflammation experienced during running. A notable knee sleeve is Hyperice, which employs contrast therapy by alternating between hot and cold temperatures, effectively addressing inflammation, improving blood flow, circulation, and other related factors.

For walking, McMillian recommends utilizing knee straps to alleviate pressure on the knees. This is particularly helpful for individuals with conditions like arthritis, as the knee strap adds a supportive structure to the knee. It can also be advantageous to wear a knee strap during long drives.

Furthermore, McMillian emphasizes the importance of wearing sneakers with adequate cushioning. This helps minimize the impact of exercise on the joints, providing additional support and protection.


Kim pointed out that acute traumas such as strains or sprains often stem from tightness in other areas or limited range of motion. The interconnectedness of our body means that even a slight improper movement in one part can trigger a domino effect on the rest of our body.

To understand the source of your pain, it's crucial to examine the joints adjacent to the affected joint. How are your hips or calf muscles in terms of tightness? Could they be contributing to the discomfort you're feeling?

Maloney emphasized that nothing works in isolation within our body. It's essential to incorporate stretches for various body parts, warm up properly, cool down effectively, and allow for rest days.

While focusing on the knee joint might seem logical if that's where the problem lies, addressing weaknesses in the hips, addressing flexibility issues, or addressing tightness in the ankle joints is equally important. Neglecting these areas could result in pain manifesting in different regions, as highlighted by Maloney.

Moreover, it's crucial to take any pain in your body, including knee pain, seriously. If you're experiencing knee issues, Maloney suggests consulting an orthopedic surgeon to determine the underlying cause and receive personalized advice. Neglecting your health is not advisable, as pain often indicates an underlying larger problem.

Maloney also stressed the importance of understanding that pain serves a purpose. Rather than viewing pain as purely negative, it acts as a valuable indicator, signaling whether our actions are detrimental to our bodies.


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