There is nothing more discouraging than falling out of a workout routine.  When it happens due to sore knees, it is even more devastating.  Your knees give you movement, agility and power.  When they are out of commission it might seem your whole routine is lost.  The good news is that there are exercises you can do that are gentle on the knees or that involve no stress at all.

The Eliptical Machine

Depending on the shape of your knees or what your level of discomfort is, the Elliptical is a very low impact machine.   Because the motion of the machine is a smooth, non-jarring motion, there is less stress on your joints.  It outranks the treadmill with those having chronic knee issues since on the treadmill your steps are not as pressure free.

Cardio without knee work

Cardio doesn’t have to be a jolting, bouncing experience.  There are a lot of different cardio exercises that will benefit your health and work without further damaging your knees.  If you go to a gym, look for a machine called an Upper Body Ergometer.  It’s like biking with your hands.  Some gyms are even starting classes called Kranking – very high energy and you will get your cardio fix.  Another option is the stationary bike.  If your knees are particularly painful, or you are healing from injury or from a surgical procedure – take it easy.  The stationary bike takes your weight off your knees but allows for excellent mobility and cardio.  With the stationary bike you can increase the pressure on your knee slowly over time.  If this doesn’t seem to give you the work out you want and you feel you can do more, then skip the stationary bike and get a regular bike out and go for a spin.  Biking builds up the muscles on the backs of your legs which help to support the knee.  Whatever you choose, start slow and never push to the point of pain.


The benefits of swimming on your heart and lungs cannot be praised enough.  Swimming is an amazing cardio workout and causes virtually no stress on the knees (or any other joints, for that matter).  Swimming allows you a full body workout without the impact.  If you aren’t an excellent swimmer, never fear – even doing the dog paddle with make a difference.  For those healing from injury or surgery, floating and gently kicking is a good start.  You can work up to dog paddle and then laps.  Treading water is another excellent workout and there are water aerobics classes.  Just getting in the pool relieves so much stress off the body’s joints.

Whatever option you choose to keep up on your cardio work out, you must remember that time is of the essence.  Six weeks is the healing time for a severe injury or surgery.  Don’t push your sore knees too hard too fast.  For those with chronic knee discomfort, switch between these exercise options and take it slow.  Injuring or re-injuring yourself is only going to set you back further.