I tell my students to let me know if they feel any pain during our exercises and one of the most common types of discomfort that I hear about comes from the knees. As fitness professionals, we are not allowed to diagnose pain but we can make some suggestions on how to deal with it when it arises.

My first piece of advice is to seek the support of a physiotherapist so that they can tell you the probable cause and guide you on how to avoid making the situation worse. It actually surprises me how many people refuse to go and get their knees looked at by a physio. For some people, it’s the cost that deters them which is understandable to a certain extent but I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to you body as those pain signals are like the squeaks you hear in your car breaks before the pads are completely ineffective. Before real, long lasting damage is done, see the “knee mechanic” and start following their advice and you might be able to avoid a far worse situation in the future.

What I hear most often is, “oh I will be fine. It just occurs once in a while when I …” and you can fill one of many statements to finish the sentence. “When I climb stairs, run, do aerobics, dance, squat or lunge.” It is good to take note of when you feel the pain because that will give your physio clues as to what might be going wrong within the joint. For example, if you are used to always moving forward, aerobics might aggravate weaknesses in your knees because of the lateral (side to side) motion. Our joints become strong or weak based on the types of activities that we are doing on a regular basis. We need to strengthen the whole joint to work against these imbalances and that is what the physio does.

So when I hear people say they won’t go to the doctor of physiotherapist that leaves me with just one suggestion which you hear me say all of the time. “If it hurts stop doing the movement and work in a pain free range of motion.” 9 times out of 10, clients will continue to do the exercise. I can understand not wanting to give up because of a bit of discomfort. Exercise is hard and we all want to be fit so we push through and persist but you must never push through joint pain. If your muscles are fatigued it can be difficult to do that last squat or lunge but don’t mix up that feeling with the intense sting of a suffering knee joint. Your body is telling you to stop and it is best to listen.

Another reason people refuse to seek medical treatment is the fear that they will be told that they must stop the activity that they love. I love to run but when I tried to take it back up this past summer, my ankles refused to participate properly and I ended up re-injuring my Achilles and had to give up running for good and teaching Step. My physio had told me years ago that running was out of the question simply because of my situation but I chose to ignore her and now I have paid the price.

My last piece of advice is to watch your knee alignment in your group exercise classes because you might be rushing and improper positioning can cause undo pain. If you need any help with this ask your instructor to check your stance. That is something we can do to help but the rest is up to you!

Listen to your body.

See you soon,

Beth