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Workout to fix my knees (and also "get in shape")

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Hi everyone!


If I go up two or three flights of stairs in a day (even if not all at once), I'm in pretty bad pain for several days afterwards.

My doctor also explicitly told me that I am in "maintenance mode" and that I should never jog, run, or jump again for the rest of my life, despite being 28 years old when I was told that.


And I want to fix that, so I'd appreciate any help you can give!


So the goals of my workout routine are:

1) Build leg strength in general

2) Build hamstring and quad strength in particular

3) Stretch my legs and improve flexibility

4) The more typical goal of "Generally build muscle"


My current workout is:

For each exercise, a warm-up set then 3 or 4 sets


Mondays and Wednesdays:

Stick-ups (upper-back exercise, done hoping to improve my posture because potentially that can contribute to the knee issues) - currently ~60 per set

Wall sits (quad exercise) - currently <=60 seconds per set

Calf raises (calf exercise) - currently 60 per set, no weights

Walk ~3.6 miles (no steep hills or stairs; one day a week I go 6.6 miles instead)



Stool scoots (hamstring exercise; http://www.mavenlive.com/physical-therapy-exercises/stool-scoots.html) - currently ~5 laps of my workplace per set

Pushups - currently ~30-35 per set (I'm working on progressing these to one-handed pushups)

Crunches - currently ~30-40 per set

Glute bridges (back and hamstrings) - currently ~60 sec per set

Walk ~0.6 miles (from car to work and back)

Straight leg lifts, side leg lifts, and various other related exercises - currently 15 per set with 8 lb ankle weights





Straight leg lifts, side leg lifts, and various other related exercises


Walk ~0.6 miles




Walk ~3.6 miles



Glute bridges



Straight leg lifts, side leg lifts, and various other related exercises


Triceps extensions - Currently ~10 per set with a 10 lb dumbbell

Front raises - Currently ~7 per set with 10 lb dumbbells


Sunday (I'm thinking of adding these but haven't yet; currently this is a rest day):

Bent-over rows 

Bicep curls



Obviously my focus has been on my legs, but I want to start working on everything else.  

So, any advice on what I should add that WILL NOT hurt my knees?  Or advice on what I should progress or change in my current routine?  

The following definitely hurt me:  Step ups, step downs, lunges, squats, burpees, leg extensions, walking up steps, walking up steep hills, kneeling, sitting for long periods, jumping


In terms of equipment I only have access to dumbbells and adjustable ankle weights.


Thanks!   :)

Robert, level 3 Half-Gnoll druidChaotic Evil

Current (third!) challenge

STR 3.5|DEX 4|STA 8.5|CON 2|WIS 6|CHA 4

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Further information on my knees:



The diagnosis is "patellofemoral pain syndrome" (which, translated to English means "knee pain") or "chondromalacia of the patella".  


Both knees.


Basically, my knees hurt much of the time, and since the science on this issue is not good, this is "because" of any or all of the following:  (1) I have thinned and possibly cracked cartilage around my knees, which is "normal wear and tear" even though I am only 30 years old and was never really into sports or exercise AT ALL until recently, (2) maybe there's a muscle imbalance?, (3) maybe my muscles aren't "strong enough" (and in particular the hamstring and/or quads), (4) maybe my leg muscles aren't flexible enough, (5) something else?


Yes, I am seeing doctors for this.  I went through two full bouts of physical therapy over the past few years, which my insurance will no longer cover for the moment.  MRIs show "thin" cartilage with "signal abnormalities" all around my knees.  

Since it's both knees, it's unlikely to be trauma (and there's no real evidence of that anyway).


I can't even do a lot of the physical therapy exercises that are supposed to help, since those actually exacerbate the problem.  Examples:  Step downs or leg extensions


Ice helps with the pain, though.

I have tried those supplements that aren't scientifically valid but everyone recommends, and no, they didn't help.  I also tried acupuncture and reiki healing, which similarly didn't help.


The next step medically is to try hyaluran injections, apparently, even though those do not have particularly good science behind them.  I'm consulting a doctor about that in a few days.

Robert, level 3 Half-Gnoll druidChaotic Evil

Current (third!) challenge

STR 3.5|DEX 4|STA 8.5|CON 2|WIS 6|CHA 4

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I don't know if it will work for you, but yoga really, really helped my knee problems. It increased my flexibility, and probably just as importantly strengthened all those little muscles around my knees that help support them. Without it there is no way I could be running like I do now! I spent several winters clinging to a walking stick, even when posing as a figure model, because of knee pain.

Human Adventurer

Str: 3 | Dex: 2 | Sta:2 | Con:3 | Wis:3 | Cha:2

I've got no strings to hold me down, to make me smile or make me frown...

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My boyfriend has patello-femoral as well, but only in one knee.  I also have super bad knees.

Some things you may want to consider (if your knees can take it) are squats and lunges.  They can be bodyweight, with dumbbells or a barbell if you're so inclined.
Deadlifts will really hit the hamstrings.  These generally need weight (most people use barbells), but there are dumbbell variations.


Also, if you have access to a bike (even a stationary one), bike.  That's one of the best exercises for knees because it's low impact and strengthens all those muscles.

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