Is exercise actually bad for your knees?

Today, Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymble and Balmain, and Neutral Bay discuss the myth of whether or not exercise is bad for your knees and in particular, knee osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage, that is, the protective layer on the surfaces of the bones in the joint, weakens and breaks down causing pain & stiffness in the joint. It is the most common type of arthritis in the knee. The progressively declining nature of OA has been associated with ligament stiffness, decreased muscular strength, increased pain and disability leading to changes in a person’s functional movements due to a reduced ability to weight bear on the affected joint. Loss of muscle strength in the legs is associated with an increase in pain and disability and a more rapid progression of knee OA. Over time, chronic OA can lead to anxiety, depression, being fear-focused when moving and a negative psychological outlook.

The most common symptom of knee OA is pain. Research has proven that exercise can help manage this symptom as it can cause exercise-induced analgesia. That is, exercise can help with pain relief through decreasing a persons’ sensitivity to painful stimuli. This effect has been reported in aerobic, resistance and isometric exercise modalities. It is most effective when exercising at higher intensities and for longer durations.

Exercise is recommended has the first-line conservative treatment for knee OA. It has been stated that the benefits of land-based exercise can be similar to the relief from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Generally, non-pharmacologic approaches to OA treatment such as exercise, can be as effective as pharmacologic approaches.

Exercise has been shown to improve joint mobility and strength. The stronger the muscles are surrounding the affected joint, the more weight they can sustain to help support and protect your joints. Resistance training specifically is important in the exercise programming for people with OA in helping to offset the physical and psychological limitations associated with knee OA. Through monitoring pain during and after exercise, incorporating rest days in the instance of a flare up and integrating a variety of individualised exercises into a program, exercise can be safely and effectively prescribed to help manage and prevent knee pain in knee osteoarthritis.

If you are struggling with knee pain or have knee OA, contact Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology on 1300 964 002 to enquire today for an initial consult.

Written by Ellen Spencer


Bosomworth, N. J. (2009). Exercise and knee osteoarthritis: benefit or hazard? Canadian Family Physician , 871-8.

Da Silva Santos, R., & Galdino, G. (2018). ENDOGENOUS SYSTEMS INVOLVED IN EXERCISE-INDUCED ANALGESIA. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology , 3-13.

ESSA. (2018, January). Osteoarthritis. Retrieved from ESSA:

Foran, J. R. (2021, Feb). Arthritis of the Knee. Retrieved from OrthoInfo:–conditions/arthritis-of-the-knee/

Lima, L. V., Adner, T. S., & Sluka, K. A. (2017). Does exercise increase or decrease pain? Central mechanisms underlying these two phenomena. The Journal of Physiology , 29-31.

Susko, A. M., & Fitzgerald, G. K. (2013). The pain-relieving qualities of exercise in knee osteoarthritis. Open Access Rheumatology: Research and Reviews, 81-91.

Vincent, K. R., & Vincent, H. K. (2012). Resistance Exercise for Knee Osteoarthritis. NIH Public Access, May .

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply