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Brace for Good News About Bad Knees

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: A while back I had knee surgery, but I still want to work out even though exercise sometimes hurts. How do I protect my knees when participating in cardio activities, fitness classes, or walking downhill? Bob, Goleta, CA

Knee StrapAlexandra: Hi Bob. Would you like me to go into detail about strengthening up and stretching the muscles that support your slacker knees, including the much-forgotten VMO? No, that is not an insurance plan, that is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus, and yes, it is spelled like that. No body part with Latin in its description (that would apply to er, um, well, all of them) should have to live in pain. It’s all about balance.

Kymberly: Well, balance AND alignment.  Our advice times twins is: Strengthen your quads. Do the same for your inner thighs and hamstrings so you stay balanced muscularly. Strengthen your anterior tibialis (shins) while you’re at it. Keep your knees tracking in line with your upper leg and lower leg, No turning your feet one way when your knees are pointing in another. And no turning your knees one way when your pelvic structure dictates something different. Got a compass so you can keep up with me and your pelvic structure?

When doing movements that locomote you forward or downhill, try to keep your knee above or behind your toes. Beware of all that forward and downward motion pushing your knees too far in front of your body and past the vertical plane of your feet. Otherwise you are putting a lot of pressure on the poor little kneecaps. Translation = knee pain.

knee brace for athletesHave you checked with your doctor whether wearing a knee brace or sport wrap might help? Options range from custom made, metal, hinging knee braces to those small strap bands. Both Alexandra and I have worn knee braces after similar reconstructive surgeries that ended our soccer careers. And by “careers,” we mean “having fun on the pitch.”  Fortunately we can still teach fitness!

A: Why don’t you just hire a proxy to do your exercise activities? Save your knees for dancing at parties and asking forgiveness.

K: You know, I have to agree with Alexandra. Party on with protected and braced knees!

Readers: If you have knee pain that affects your workouts, how do you deal with it?

Disclosure: BetterBraces. com has compensated us for the links in this post. The opinions and suggestions are entirely ours, however. Tricky knees are all yours though, if you insist.

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About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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28 Responses to Brace for Good News About Bad Knees

  1. SweatyGirl January 23, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    I’ve got two super crappy knees. I just work around them. On a “good” knee day, I take what I can get. I can run a little, squat a little, etc. And then at night I just have to be sure to ice and tape them properly.

    On bad knee days, I just avoid them! I do a lot of upper body, and low impact cardio.

    I discovered that if I am nice to them, they’ll be nicer to me!

    Unfortunately, I have not yet found a brace that helps me, but I know that there are great ones out there for others!

  2. Mike January 23, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Thanks for sharing this article, i have a friend of mine with knee injury and he wont let off the gym, i bet he will be very happy to read this article and get the solution to his bad knee.

  3. Shira January 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Great advice, although I don’t think an exercise proxy is going to do much in the way of helping me build more muscle mass. I’ve got jacked-up knees and strengthening the muscles around them has been critical in improving my fitness and mobility. If only the bionic program was real and they needed a 45 year old healthy living writer to test out the knees parts for free…. :)
    Shira recently posted..Using billboards to fight obesityMy Profile

  4. Catwoman January 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    I had been wearing these protectors for about 4years while exercising, when I got to know a therapeutist, who helped with with a special treatment, and now I don’t need to wear these ugly things any more.
    Catwoman recently posted..esztétikai fogászatMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit January 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      Love your name. Do you know how much we love our catwoman glasses? Braces can be a pain, that’s for sure.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Healthy School LunchesMy Profile

  5. Marnie Byod January 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    I never tried this braces. When I am going to hit my knees I just massage it gradually and have some rest for a while.
    Marnie Byod recently posted..Cabinet MakerMy Profile

  6. Emily (faliLV) (@FamilyNLifeLV) January 24, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    I will pass this on to my husband. He had knee surgery 2 years ago, but still feels like he lacks stability!
    Emily (faliLV) (@FamilyNLifeLV) recently posted..TV on your iPad with Cox Connect TVMy Profile

  7. Colleen January 24, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    My sister is getting ready to have surgery I will have to pass on to her this article
    Colleen recently posted..Great Avocado Recipes and More!My Profile

  8. Becca @ Mama B January 24, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Great advice. My dad has a really bad knee so I’ll share this with him
    Becca @ Mama B recently posted..Bucket Listing: BiPlane RideMy Profile

  9. amber January 24, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Great advice I love the tips you give.
    amber recently posted..Trendy Tuesday ~ Whimsical Bird Feeders DIYMy Profile

  10. NeuroMuscular Junction Wellness Center January 24, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I recommend seeing a Certified Neuromuscular Therapist (St. John Method, specifically) who also is trained and knowledgeable in a method of corrective stretches & exercises called Active Isolated Stretching & Strengthening.

    CNMT’s can help release trigger points, nerve entrapment & break up scar tissue which causes ischemia & pain. Ischemia is a technical word for lack of blood flow in the muscles and connective tissues. ANY TIME you have ischemia, chances are you will either have injury or pain, because the nutrients that are supposed to be in the blood supply are not getting to those cells to feed them and give energy.

    A Trigger Point is an Ischemic knot in the tissue that sends radiating pain to other seemingly non-related areas of the body, or it may just radiate outward from the trigger point. These can perpetuate a Pain-Spasm-Pain Cycle until you do something about it. Unfortunately pain-killer drugs and over-the-counter NSAIDs will only cover up your pain and not resolve the underlying cause. In fact the longer you try to hide the pain, the harder it will hit you and start to make the medication futile and ineffective. Pain is a signal something is wrong in the body, like a smoke alarm. taking a drug that hides the pain is like taking the batteries out of your smoke alarm!

    A Neuromuscular Therapist is Highly trained to help YOU understand your body on a different level, and give you tools to take control of your own health and function instead of always relying on doctors & surgeons to fix you. We will also apply very precise soft tissue manipulation, corrective exercises and methods of treating your ischemia, trigger points & nerve entrapment and posture distortions at home/work during your daily life.

    Now with knees specifically, its not wise to strengthen the quadriceps right away with knee problems. the quads are often over-strengthened in 1st place. The quadriceps can be fatigued and not necessarily weak, but test weak.

    All too often muscle strengthening gets put first in physical therapy, and this can cause more injury & delayed healing.

    In Neuromuscular Therapy, we have a protocol of rehab: 1. Eliminate spasms and hypercontraction in the tissues (Manual therapy such a neuromuscular therapy, myofascial release, structural bodywork)
    2. Restore proper biomechanics (Movement Therapy, Soft-tissue re-patterning, structural bodywork, Cranio-Sacral Therapy)
    3. Restore flexibility to the tissues (Active Isolated Stretching)
    4. Rebuild the strength of the injured tissues (Active Isolated Strengthening)
    5. Build endurance (Aerobic exercise)

    If you try to deviate from these stages, Neuromuscular Therapists have found that you will get delays in healing and even experience mental and emotional stress and anxiety because you are not seeing constant improvements.

    You may visit my web site at or for knee pain or problems or other joint problems.

  11. Alissa January 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Thanks for sharing all this great info. And now I will knock on wood that I never need to use it. Ha! I do get nervous, though, because I know running can be so very hard on the knees. I’ll have to bookmark this, just in case. Thanks!
    Alissa recently posted..Kick the Clutter: Decluttering the Living RoomMy Profile

    • NeuroMuscular Junction Wellness Center January 25, 2012 at 9:58 am #


      Neuromuscular Therapy is BEST USED as a PREHAB, BEFORE you have problems, instead of waiting for the injury to happen! It helps to increase circulation of blood & lymph, releasing nerve entrapment and trigger points, correcting postural distortions that are throwing the body out of its center of gravity, and therefore protect the joints that hold us up and move us!

      I see people all over, from walking down the street, in businesses, stores, on TV who have some kind of posture distortion that they are probably not aware they have and are not aware of what it is doing to their joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, bones, nerves, blood vessels & organs! YES! Posture distortion affects every single cell in the human body head to toes and fingertips!

      Children should be receiving regular bodywork in order to prevent future problems that their parents and grandparents are experiencing NOW!

  12. Nicolas Cailot January 26, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    My mother had severe knee pain before two years and she used to wear knee braces. The local doctor had suggested her some cycling exercises which had to been done lying on the back. She did this for two months and found lot of relief of pain. What I am planning is to take steps to avoid that pain rather than curing it. Is there any way?
    Nicolas Cailot recently posted..Une bonne raison de se mettre en colère : la théorie recalibratriceMy Profile

  13. Melissa034 January 26, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Thanks for sharing this great advice. I have been feeling discomfort on my right knee. Glad I bumped to your blog and see the good news that can help me with my knee.
    Melissa034 recently posted..Celebrity fitness: Eva Mendes’s bodyMy Profile

  14. Akishya January 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    This is a great post! providing us a useful information about this knee braces is big help. I will surely share this information to all of my friends. Thanks and keep up the good work.
    Akishya recently posted..Thinking of bringing an Asian Arowana home?My Profile

  15. Gabby January 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Hello! Thanks for providing us this kind of post. This is very helpful to those who suffer from injuries. I think I need this one too. Sometimes my ankle and toes are aching so badly, and it’s hard for me to walk. Is it advisable to use it when you have arthritis?
    Gabby recently posted..Forex Capital Markets NycMy Profile

  16. Diana January 31, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    Thanks so much for this article. I gained some good insight into understanding better my bad knee…Will put your advice to good use!

    Diana recently posted..Graco Sarah Classic 4-in-1 Convertible CribMy Profile

  17. Cynthia Sadler February 2, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    So today was my last day at work, last day to drive, last day walking on tow feet. I ‘am going in for knee surgery tomorrow and then 3 months of knee rehab. Looks like daytime TV and I will be very good friends by the end of it
    Cynthia Sadler recently posted..Steak Knife SetMy Profile

  18. Maira March 28, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

    Hello, I have really bad knees do these braces need to be worn long term? Thank you for the help.


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