What Are Bad Knees?

Apart from aching backs, a significant number of people who exercise and workout, complain about aching knees. Exercise, sports and other activities, can cause serious injuries, muscle strains, and tendonitis.

For some people, knee pain can become so severe that daily activities become limited. Others might experience mild pain, which might be a hindrance to their healthy lifestyle.

If you are dealing with a knee problem, chances are very high that you are suffering from bad knees. Bad knees involve sudden knee pain. Injuring the knees or overusing them is one of the main causes that lead to bad knees.

Older people tend to experience knee pain more than young people. Additionally, overweight people are also at a higher risk of suffering from bad knees.

What Types of Bad Knees Are There?

For active people, there are two main types of knee pain, which lead to bad knees. They are acute or traumatic injuries and overuse injuries. Patellar pain syndrome is the most-occurring overuse injury. This particular type characterized by soreness, pain or discomfort at the fore of the kneecap or slightly beneath it. This pain normally occurs when you overload your joints, due to repetitive movements. It may be due to endless squats, miles of running, step-ups, and lunges.

Doing too much of something too soon without adequate recovery, will give you overuse injuries. It is good to note that the above listed exercises are not particularly bad for the knees. In fact, they promote strengthening of the crucial muscles supporting the knees like quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The problem occurs when you make sudden change in duration, frequency, and intensity of your exercises.

For example, starting a race program and increasing your mileage dramatically. You are simply inviting this trouble. The other type of injury, the traumatic or acute knee injuries occur when athletes undertake three-dimensional exercises. They include twisting and cutting, which are common training routines in basketball and tennis.

To understand this, the design of the knee involves forward and backward motions only. When you undertake these exercises, you force the knees to torque sideways. This results in torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or ruptured cartilage. Traumatic injuries can also occur because of overtraining, without adequate pre-training.

What Causes Bad Knees

Common causes of bad knees include strains and sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, gout, septic arthritis, bleeding in the knee joint, osteoarthritis, torn tendons and torn ligaments and anterior knee pain, just to name a few.

Strains and Sprains

If you think that your bad knees are because of overtraining or doing more exercises than your common routine, you might have probably just strained or sprained your knees. In this case, your knee tissues have overstretched. The good news is that this is not permanent damage to your knees. You can easily recover through various methods, which will be further discussed in the article.

Anterior Knee Pain

This refers to knee pain experienced at the knee front especially around the kneecap. Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, there are no clear reasons behind this form of knee pain. However, experts believe that it may occur due to previous injuries, overusing the knees and muscle weakness. The pain may also occur when the kneecap is slightly out of position. The pain is normally aching and dull. It also has a high tendency of affecting both knees simultaneously. Prolonged periods of kneeling or squatting normally worsen this condition.

Cartilage Damage

Located between the lower and upper leg bones, at your knee joints are rubbery tissue pads, known as menisci. Menisci act as shock absorbers, thus cushioning the bones. You can also tear your meniscus through sudden twisting of the knee joint. This results in pain and swelling, as well as locking of the knees, in extreme circumstances. During this situation, the torn meniscus flips into the knee joint, thus preventing you from locking your knees.


Knee arthritis is a common cause of bad knees, disability and severe pain. The bad news is that knee arthritis is usually a degenerative condition, which may even require surgery to correct. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and post-traumatic arthritis, are the main ones that lead to knee problems.

Osteoarthritis is highly prevalent in older people. It mainly causes articular cartilage damage as well as extended swelling of those tissues in and around the knee joints. Additionally, lack of physical activity and putting on many calories might worsen the pain in the joints. If you don’t move around often, the joints usually become stiff or even become locked. Arthritis may also affect young people, especially those with previous or recurring knee injuries.


Kneeling for extended periods or repetitive knee movements, may cause fluid buildup around the knee joint. This is bursitis. The condition affects people in certain careers that involve much kneeling like footballers and carpet cleaners. Bursitis causes knee pain, which usually gets worse once you fully bend your knee or kneel.

Whenever you experience such pain, your knee might be swollen, red, warm and tender. If you experience such symptoms, chances are very high that you are suffering from Bursitis. If you develop spreading redness on the knees, as well as persistent pain and high temperature, the bursae might be already infected.

How to Fix/Cure Bad Knees

Treatment of bad knees is varied. The method applied will normally depend on the reason behind the pain, as well as the extent of the problem. If the problem is not severe, then there are simple home remedies applied and the problem will be over within a few days. The most common home remedy is RICE. It stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These activities promote better knee movement while reducing the swelling.

Medications are normally prescribed for pain relief or treat an underlying knee condition. Physical therapy is another popular method. It is frequently used to fix bad knees. Sometimes, all you need is to strengthen the muscles around the knees making it to withstand high activity levels. This helps in avoiding further injuries, or even worsening the present injury.

Certain medical injections directly to the knee are prescribed, to alleviate the pain during certain knee injuries. The most common injections used are lubricants and corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are used to relieve inflammation and treat certain forms of arthritis. However, this needs to be done frequently, to keep the condition in check. Doctors will usually prescribe lubricants, to add extra fluid in your knee joints. Lubricants are familiar to knee fluid. They promote better movement and reduce pain.

Physicians normally use surgery as the last resort, when other medications have failed. The two most common are total knee replacement and arthroscopic knee surgery. In arthroscopic knee surgery, the physician is able to check inside the knees through micro perforations. He or she is also able to remove loose bones while repairing the injuries.

How to Prevent Bad Knees

Maintain healthy weight

Carrying excess pounds can apply extra pressure on the joints, thus contributing to knee pain. If you are obese or even overweight, losing at least 5% of your current body weight can create a very huge difference. It can take off some pressure on your knees, which minimizes some of the conditions associated with knee pain.


Whether you are not you lead an active lifestyle, stretching is very beneficial to your knees. Stretches focusing on the hamstring, quadriceps muscles and the calf, reduces pressure on your kneecaps and knees in overall. Many people would argue that stretching has no aerobic value seeing it as a waste of time. However, a flexible and well-conditioned body has minimal chances of developing knee overuse problems. Stretches focusing on building hip flexibility, such as a resistance band and butterfly stretches, can alleviate knee pain.

Proper Standing and walking Posture

Whenever you slouch, you are usually walking bent at the waist and leaning forward. Such a posture normally contributes to knee pain. This is because the tendons, ligaments and knee muscles, have not assumed their natural positions. You are simply exerting pressure on them. Once that pressure mounts, they reach a breaking point. Some will tear down, giving you that painful sensation in your knees. Having strong muscles in your lower back and abdomen, promotes good posture. This will ultimately reduce pressure on the knees.

Learn What Ruins Your Knees

A really great way to prevent the ruination of your knees, is by finding out precisely how you can ruin your knees the most efficiently. And then just don’t do all of that stuff.

What Exercises For Bad Knees?


Step-ups are very essential exercises, for strengthening core leg and knee muscles. For best results, it is advisable to use a weight like a dumbbell. Taking the dumbbells, position them shoulder high while stepping on the bench with one leg. Elevate the other leg all the way to 90 degrees, so that it appears as if you are standing on the platform with one leg. Step back to the floor and ensure that you switch the legs.


Squats can be either single or double leg squat, depending on what you prefer or what you feel comfortable doing. For proper execution of this movement, place a barbell on your shoulders, rest one leg on the floor while the other one should be slightly bent at the knee, as you make your up and down movements. You can also use dumbbells, if you are not comfortable with the barbell. If you currently have knee problems, then you should step out the farthest you can. Two sets will be sufficient to add strength to your legs.

Straight Leg Raises

Sitting with your back against the wall, with the right leg bent and the left leg straight, bend slightly, with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Raise your left leg slowly, for around 12 inches from the floor. Maintain position for a few seconds, then lower slowly. Slow movements allow you to involve all leg muscles. Repeat the procedure with the other leg.


This are mainly recommended to advanced trainers, since they require good technique for execution. As much as hamstring work is directly important towards developing good legs and knees, back development is equally important. When doing this exercise, focus on lifting heavy, even if you will just do one or two rounds. Apart from your lower back, you will also develop striated glutes and a rear back spread. Some of the exercises to avoid include:

  • Lunges
  • Full-arc knee extensions
  • Hurdler stretches
  • Deep squats

What Shoes/Insoles Should You Wear For Bad Knees?

Wearing the right type of shoes is very vital for healthy knees. Comfortable and supportive shoes minimize the pressure from the knee joints. This promotes proper leg balance and alignment. It should not come as a surprise that wearing high heel shoes would lead to painful knees.

On the other hand, when you are wearing flats or low pumps, your thigh muscles have minimal work to do, to maintain stability. This is easier on your knees. While exercises are good for your knees, wearing high heels frequently would be counterproductive. Save them for the big occasion, and save yourself from bad knees.

Moreover, good shoes are important, during training or exercise. If you have just started out running, or performing aerobic exercises, get professionally fitted shoes. They should be ideal for your legs and pronation. Having the right shoes will help with your knee problems. Apart from that, they will prevent knee overuse problems, caused by bad footwear.

Shoes designed for bad knees come with outsole that resembles natural barefoot movements. This leads to reduced load on the knee joints. They should also provide utmost comfort to the knees while preventing or eliminating strain on the knees. This means that you should only purchase well-cushioned footwear. This prevents shock to the knees while absorbing the shock that occurs when the foot hits the ground. Properly padded shoes will also significantly reduce the impact experienced when walking on hard surfaces.

Ensure that you check the soles when buying shoes for bad knees. Shoes with a firm midsole can reduce overpronation. Overpronation causes inward rotation of the knee thus causing knee strain and pain.

Footwear inserts are a great option of easing knee pain. They provide extra padding and cushioning, thus dissipating shock on the entire foot. There are certain orthotics that have been designed to hold the foot perfectly in position, which reduces excessive inward rotation. Orthotics are available in many stores. I’m even reviewing some really great ones right here on this site!

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Brian Bradshaw. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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