Inactivity Is Hard on Your Knees

Noyes Knee Institute Signature

Published On

Dec 31, 2018


Patient Education

Start Moving: Why Inactivity Is Hard on Your Knees

Do you spend a lot of time sitting? Maybe you work at an office where most of your time is at your desk, or maybe when you’re at home, you prefer to rest on the couch instead of being on your feet. Many people live a mostly inactive lifestyle, but they might not realize that inactivity can be the reason why they experience increased joint pain.

Learn the reasons why inactivity can hurt your knees and what you can do to change it.

Weakens Your Knees

If you live a life or limited activity, your body adapts to that lack of motion. Essentially, when you aren’t using your legs muscles, ligaments, and joints for moderate levels of activity, you are losing them. Your knees become weaker as you require less of them.

One runner found that as she took time off running to rehabilitate an injury, she could not run after completing her recovery because of knee pain. She had to complete additional physical therapy because the rest had caused her to develop a condition called chondromalacia of the patella.

Essentially, her kneecap would not follow the proper range of motion because she had developed some weakness in the joint. It’s a common condition for people who are not active. Even something as simple as going up or down the stairs can make your knees ache.

If you spend your day sitting, you also experience pain in other areas that can also aggravate the knee. Your quadriceps become tight, which exert a pulling sensation on your knees.

You can help your knees feel better by focusing on flexibility. Stretch daily, and participate in joint-stabilizing exercises like yoga. Try to be more active during the day. Stand at your desk, or take time to walk around the office a few times. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.

Increases Your Risk of Arthritis Pain

If you start to experience joint pain as a result of arthritis, your first instinct is to rest more, because walking, running, biking, or other activities cause pain. However, resting when you have knee pain is often the worst solution.

Resting will cause the muscles that give the knee support to weaken. As a result, they become less able to bear your weight, which results in greater joint pain. Reduced strength in the knee joint also translates to reduced stability, which can increase your risk for accidents and make exercising even more difficult to do safely.

If you have arthritis or if you have a history of arthritis in your family, staying active is one way you can help to prevent it from getting worse. Ask a knee specialist for exercises that are safe and helpful for strengthening your knees without causing you too much pain during workouts.

Promotes Weight Gain

A sedentary lifestyle is often why people struggle to manage their weight. Gaining weight with age is common, and spending your days seated can make that problem worse. With every extra pound, the pressure on your knees increases by about four pounds. So, just 10 pounds of extra weight means 40 pounds of pressure on your knees.

All that stress naturally means that your knees start to hurt, and they can hurt even more when you try to be active again. Make sure you intentionally choose low impact exercise as first. Try a stationary bike or a brisk walk in supportive shoes to begin. Focus on losing weight through diet control.

After you lose some weight, you can increase your physical workouts if your doctor believes they will be safe. You might try incorporating some resistance training to really give your lower body some increased strength and stability, as long as you also spend time stretching and increasing your flexibility.

For more information about how sedentary living affects your joint health, contact us at The Noyes Knee Institute.