We need our knees. And not just so we can nail our fitness goals — although you’d be hard pressed to run, walk, spin, or even swim without them in good working order — but also so we can go about our everyday tasks. Basic activities like pushing a shopping cart or even vacuuming the floor can be excruciatingly difficult with knee pain. Unfortunately, a good deal of knee injuries are actually caused by strains experienced while exercising, due to overuse or improper training, MedicineNet reports. Certainly, runner’s knee — which is pain behind the kneecap — is an injury that’s the perfect storm of overuse and having bad running form (per Men’s Health).
If you think of knee injuries as something mainly runners endure, however, you’d be wrong. According to Dr. Sabrina Strickland, who is an orthopedic surgeon at New York City’s Women’s Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery, group fitness classes — like CrossFit and boot camps — actually are where exercise-related knee injuries happen the most. “Women specifically tend to have anterior knee pain, patellar overload, or patellar femoral syndrome — it’s all the same thing: irritation to the kneecap,” she told Shape.
That fitness instructor might be urging you to fight on through the pain, but listen to your body. “You’ve done too much if your knees hurt during or after your workout,” Strickland added.
These are the workout moves most likely to cause knee injuries
Bad form can really kill your knees, no matter what you’re doing at the gym (per Health). Even yoga can be bad for your knees, if you’re not doing the poses correctly. “So many patients say, ‘It hurts when I do warrior pose,’ which is essentially a lunge. It’s because they don’t know how to optimize their form,” Dr. Sabrina Strickland explained to Shape. “They don’t have…enough hip strength, are letting their knee roll in, and end up putting too much stress on their kneecap.”
Lunges are notoriously rough on knees, and so are full-arc knee extensions and deep squats, according to Active. However, you may want to stay far away from hurdler’s stretches: You might have done these as a kid in gym class, but they have since been debunked as a dangerous exercise that puts too much pressure on the joints. As Judith C. Young, who is the executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, told The Washington Post, “You’re putting lateral pressure on the knee.”
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