Gentle exercises to relieve knee pain

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Pain free knees, lyme disease or not


In my Pilates practice I see a lot of people with knee pain. Some of them have Lyme disease, some of them have arthritis, some of them have injuries or muscle imbalances. No matter what the cause, there are some very gentle exercises you can do at home that tend to help everyone. You can do these exercises in bed or on your floor, and they don’t take much energy.

Most common causes of knee pain

For most cases of knee pain, a few basic problems contribute: restricted joints in the feet, ankles and knees, weak arches of the feet and a weak butt. All of these problems compound to put pressure on the knee muscles and misalign the knee joints.

If you have Lyme disease, inflammation can collect in the joints due to the body’s overwhelmed drainage systems. The gentle flow of these exercises helps flush the joints of the feet, ankles and knees, increasing synovial fluid and lymphatic flow, and lowering inflammation.

Signs of weakness or imbalance

As you practice, look for the following clues. Do your feet cramp? This is usually a sign of weakness in the arches. If this happens to you, spend some time walking around barefoot, preferably on an uneven surface - sand or rocks are best, but the floor will do. We evolved our 33 joints in each foot for a reason; to be mobile and adaptive to walking surfaces. Unfortunately, walking on concrete in shoes stiffens our feet, and passes the delicate act of balance on to the knees, hips and low back, which are not as well adapted to the task.

Do your feet, ankles or knees crack? This is not a big deal, unless the cracking hurts (in which case, stop, and see a myofascial therapist). Pain free cracking just means there are some misalignments in your bones. These exercises should be gentle enough to move you through the misalignments comfortably.

If you have Lyme disease, you can ice painful joints afterward, to help flush them and lower inflammation.

Knee pain video

Take your time with the exercises in this video. There are several in a row, and you don’t have to do all of them at once. Start at the beginning and get comfortable with the exercises one at a time. I use both legs at once in the video to save time, but it can be easier to do the exercises one leg at a time.

Make sure you are completely comfortable, breathing and relaxing, and use a pillow under your pelvis to support your lower back if you feel any discomfort there. I absolutely disagree with the adage “No pain, no gain”. Not true! The brain changes patterns best in response to pleasurable, slow, repetitive practice, when your attention is focused intently on physical sensation. So don’t watch Netflix until you are sure you’ve got it down.

If you can’t do the exercises lying on your stomach, try sitting somewhere you can swing your legs beneath you. You can do the butt strengthening exercises standing up, one leg at a time.

Here is the link to the video, in case it doesn’t appear in your browser. Sorry my face is cut off for the last bit - I had to do this video on the fly, both kids home, bribed to keep quiet. Busy week! If you saw my Instagram, you know my son brought home lice…


Don’t you love the thumbnail YouTube chose? How attractive! Haha.

Thank you so much for being here! Please pass this along to anyone you know with knee pain and a penchant for exercise in bed.

Wishing you barefoot beach walks, and balancing on mossy logs,

Shona