Training Around Knee Pain

Knee pain sucks.

It’s very common for people to experience it – whether it’s for a short time or an ongoing problem.

When it comes up, a lot of people chose to avoid training because of either pain or fear of pain. Unfortunately this is not necessary and can actually be quite negative for the person.

In this article we want to give some suggestions on how we can practically work around knee pain and keep training. This is not a rehab article, so if you’re looking to specifically manage your knee pain or looking to rehab it, we have individual coaching for that or check out our training support program which has a knee rehab protocol!

Most of the time when people talk about knee pain it’s either anterior knee pain – such as at the patellar or quadriceps tendons, or general pain around the knee cap – or general achy knee pain. The tips we are going to outline will be featured mostly around these presentations. If you’re having a different kind of knee pain, then watch for future articles when we eventually tackle those topics.

1.     Train your upper body and trunk

While your lower body may limit some options for upper body training – like push presses – or your core – like some advanced planks – realistically the majority of training options for the upper body and core are still on the table.

This is a very beneficial thing to stay on top of when you’re dealing with a more acute knee injury where it needs some time to calm down or you’re doing dedicated rehab for it. Getting in and staying active has huge benefits and this is a phenomenal option.

A few of our favorite options:

–       3 point DB row



–       Incline chest supported alternating DB row



–       DB floor press



–       1 arm DB Z press



2.     Hip Hinges

Most people who are experiencing knee pain will report having issues when the knee bends significantly or travels far forward towards/over the toes. While we don’t think these are bad movements that do them, for some people they can be aggravating and we can find alternatives that allow them to still train hard!

Hip hinges are where we minimize knee bend and keep the shin more vertical while moving at the hips. These exercises are usually well tolerated and can allow us to train the back side of the body really well.

A few great options are:

–       Barbell RDL



–       DB Hip Thrust



–       Single leg deadlift w/ 2 DBs



3.     Hip and ankle work

Building off that last point, there are still a ton of movements we can train the do not challenge the person to do those provocative exercises – and may even help in reducing those symptoms over time.

Developing a stronger and more stable calf/ankle complex is a very beneficial choice. The calf and ankle help to dictate the forces that are imparted on the knee. As well, whether your goal is aesthetics or performance, this area is often not trained fully and now is our time to do so.

Some solid training choices are:

–        Deficit Single Leg Calve Raise



–       Walking Tandem Switches



–       Floor sit ankle dorsiflexion



Last point.

If you’re someone who wants to work past the knee pain, check out our knee rehab protocol in our training support series. This will help get you returning back to those movements like squats, lunges, etc. that have you bending your knee down and getting the knee forward. It’s a process that most people can improve upon and make a great return to!

 The Citizen Athletics Team,


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