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10 Tips For Walking If You Have Knee Pain

Your knees are the largest joint in your body and support most of the weight when you walk, run, jump, stand, bend, affecting all the moving you do. When knee pain kicks in, it can quickly put the brakes on your life, causing you to slow down or restrict movement altogether. Knee pain can be caused by everyday exertions that put stress and strain on your knees. While it might be a challenge to walk with bad knees, walking is the preferred exercise that can reduce stiffness and inflammation to keep your joints healthy and functioning. Below are some tips for walking when you have bad knees.

  1. Choose the right shoes: The best shoes for people with knee pain are flat flexible running shoes. They should be able to bend in front of the foot, have a low heel to toe drop and a wider toe area to allow more wiggle room. Avoid heels with pointy toes and heels in general.  Even a 1.5-inch difference in the height of the heel to the toe can increase pressure on two common sites for knee osteoarthritis damage.
  2. Cushion insert: To allow your foot to move as naturally as possible, choose shoes that have a solid arch support that places your foot in a neutral position. Consult your podiatrist or doctor for orthotics to provide extra cushioning and support your feet to lessen pressure on your knee.  
  3. Choose soft walking surfaces: Even though walking has far less impact than running, you can still feel pain if you walk on concrete grounds. Try and walk on natural surfaces such as dirt, gravel, asphalt paths to give you more balance. For a more even surface, choose a school cinder track or community park.  
  4. Warm up: Take a hot shower or bath before you walk to warm up your joints so they are less stiff and sore. Include some active dynamic stretching to get your body ready for your walk. Start slow to get your joint fluid moving, then you can pick up your pace after a few minutes if you knees allow you.
  5. Schedule Your Walks: Build up your walk and start with 10-minute segments, with a goal of walking for 30 minutes per day. You can start at an easy or moderate pace as you build your endurance. If you have a lot of pain or stiffness in the morning, go easy on yourself and try to get up to move for a minute or two every half an hour. Increase your walking time and distance when your knee has fewer aches so that you can enjoy longer walks and be consistent.
  6. Cold Packs: After walking and getting your joint fluid flowing, you can apply cold packs to help reduce inflammation.
  7. Walking Accessories: If your knee feels too weak to walk, using trekking poles or walking poles can help with stability and reduce fatigue when walking. Depending on your condition, canes and other walking aids may also be helpful.    
  8. Lose Excess Weight: If you are overweight, losing even a few pounds can reduce stress on your knees. A healthy diet is the most effective way to lose weight. You will be able to walk and exercise with less pain and discomfort after some of the excess weight has been lost.
  9. Aim for 6000 Steps Daily: A study found that people with osteoarthritis knee pain benefit most when they walk 6000 steps or more per day. A helpful way to track your steps is to use a phone app or wear a pedometer, every step during the day counts.
  10. PRICE : P - Protect or use appropriate knee braces or sleeves to feel more supported. R- Rest, when you are experiencing pain or if you feel muscle or joint tension and soreness. C - Compress or put on a compression knee sleeve or brace to reduce the friction in your knee. E - Elevate your leg when you notice swelling (ice pack also helps!). Elevation helps to take the pressure off your veins and reduce inflammation.