Knee pain in the gym? Here are 3 simple tips!

knee pain is a common concern when training in the gym. However, it doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy. Here are some tips to keep you exercising with knee pain.

knee painNobody likes being injured. When you start to develop pain when exercising, it’s easy to lose motivation, or question whether you should continue doing the things you enjoy.

Every injury is different, and as always, it can be helpful to get an expert opinion about the likely cause of your knee pain before progressing. However, having some knee pain doesn’t mean that your days in the gym are done! The beauty of exercising in the gym is that you’re never short of options, leaving us with plenty of tools to keep you active.

In this article, we offer up some tips that can help you to train around knee pain, until your rehab gets you back to where you want to be.  

1) trial and error

Silver Dumbbells on RackInjuries can be mysterious, and don’t always follow the pattern that we might expect. It’s common to be apprehensive about trying things when your knee is painful; however, if we don’t experiment, we may be avoiding things unnecessarily.

When you’re managing a knee injury, spending some time learning how it responds to exercises in the gym can be an important stepping stone to improvement. Of course, there are several ways to approach this: a simple strategy is to do one set of the chosen exercise, after your warm up, and see what it feels like. If it feels okay, the next question is how well it recovers afterwards. If after 20-30 minutes of finishing the session, any symptoms have completely resolved, then chances are you can keep the exercise on your list in some capacity. 

If this isn’t the case and you don’t like the way that exercise feels, swap it out and try something different! Finding movements that you can do not only helps you to restore confidence, but can give your knee (and your brain) a break from aggravation.  

Now, let’s move on to Step 2…………..

2) modify movements

woman in gray sports bra and gray leggings doing push upLet’s set the scene. You now have a pretty good idea of the things that you can do in the gym without pain, and maybe a shortlist of movements that despite not feeling great, don’t cause any lasting aggravation. So, how can we further refine our management process?

When we do exercises like squats, lunges and deadlifts, lots of joints are moving simultaneously. The advantage of this is that we can modify the way we perform these movements to move forces towards or away from a given area.

Here’s an example. In a squat, both your hips and knees are working to produce the movement. So, if we have knee pain, we can alter our technique to move more load towards the hips, giving the knees a break. We could do this by squatting to a bench or box, hinging more at the hips and keeping shins more upright. We could also try a wider stance, favouring a more hip-dominant technique.

The same principle can be applied to a lunge; by leaning forwards slightly and taking a wider stance, more weight is shifted towards the hip.

Little modifications like this can increase the comfort of the exercise and keep you doing some of your favourite movements without lasting aggravation.


3) Re-write your program

dumbbells on floorNow you know what you CAN do, and the things that you might need to stay away from in the short term, you’ve got all the information that you need to start making progress again. 

This is the perfect time to re-write your gym program, building a plan that you can follow without the frustration of having to stop because of your painful knee. Aim to put some sessions together that you are confident you’ll get through without lasting aggravation. This is a great way to build confidence and get your Mojo back in the gym.

As the weeks go by, we can start to slowly re-introduce more knee-dominant movements, expanding your list of exercises. Making changes slowly can help to avoid flare ups and keep you training at the intensity you prefer. 



If you’ve got an injury and need some help designing a program that will keep you exercising, get in touch at We offer Strength and Conditioning services, including bespoke training plans and 1 on 1 coaching.

If you’re struggling with an injury that’s stopping you getting back into exercise, call us on 0800 731 2738 or book online here

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