kneedipb2If you are an avid athlete or exercise-enthusiast, you have probably experienced knee pain at some point. So what do you do when the pain is forcing you to discontinue your sport or activity? Bottom line – if you love sport, fitness and moving your body – having someone tell you that you can’t play or exercise is going to be very difficult to take. Well, the good news is there’s rarely a reason to take a complete hiatus from exercise. It will often just require a modification of your program until you figure out the cause of your aches and pains.

Here are some action steps you can take to help manage this problem:

Count it as a Blessing:

If you are experiencing knee pain, use this time to focus on other areas like your upper body and abdominals. Or perhaps use this opportunity to take up other activities that may not cause pain, like swimming or cycling, which may compliment your program nicely. But avoid getting out of your routine. If you’re used to jogging every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday replace this with a swim or weight training. The last thing you want to do is drastically change your schedule because it may be a challenge to return to your present level of activity once your knee has healed. Besides, you’ve worked so hard to achieve your current fitness level and it’s never comfortable having to start over!

Play Detective:

You may be able to narrow down the culprit by asking yourself these questions.

  • Are you progressing too quickly? No matter what you’re doing, if you do too much too soon, the connective tissue isn’t ready for it and pain is sure to surface. Instead you’d want to increase your duration, volume and frequency of activity no more than 10-20% every one to two weeks.
  • Are you doing too much of one type of activity? If all you do is run for example, it’s the same movement at the same joint over and over again – you’ll be asking for a repetitive stress injury.  Instead vary your activities – cross training creates a better balanced body.
  • Are you running or performing other high impact activities every day without taking rest days in between?  Running is a great activity to get in shape and lose body fat but it forces the body to absorb a lot of impact and poses a high risk for injury. Instead allow a days rest in between your runs or other high impact activities to help your body recover from the stresses.
  • How long have you been wearing your current fitness shoes?  On average, if you’re exercising three or more days per week, you should be switching your shoes every 6 months.  Also, make sure that when you’re running you are wearing a shoe designed for running which will ensure you are getting the correct amount of cushioning and support that you need.
  • Are you releasing your muscles after your workouts? After taxing your muscular system, take some time to release, lengthen and stretch muscles and tissues to minimize excessive tightness which can cause pain.

See a Professional:

You definitely want to nip an overuse injury in the bud so it doesn’t become chronic. It’s one thing to treat a symptom but it’s more important to figure out the cause. You may have specific weaknesses and/or imbalances that can be assessed allowing you to take steps to correct. A sport physicians, physical therapist, or other related health professional can help you determine the cause of the pain and recommend treatment including various techniques and therapies to reduce the pain and/or speed the recovery process, exercises and/or stretches. You may also have a more serious issue that could require surgery and a medical professional can determine which approach to rehabbing your injury is going to be the most effective.

Overuse injuries left untreated, can become chronic and seriously affect your ability to continue with your training program. 

Remember, that pain is your body’s warning signal that something is wrong so let’s figure out what’s going on and work around it in the meantime.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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