“Can Walking Be Bad For My Knees?”

We’ve heard the question before, a woman comes into our clinic to view all her options for knee pain and begins with…

“Can walking be bad for my knees?”

She mentioned she’s started to experience knee pain a few years ago when walking down the stairs and thought nothing of it.

She thought it was just something that would “wear off” in time.

But, when she noticed the pain in her knees every time she went down the stairs, or walked up and down hills with her dog, she thought she better do something about it.

She went to his doctor, who told her to rest and take painkillers to ease the pain.

But the word “rest” can be confusing…

What does “rest” even mean?

Does it mean sitting on the sofa all day when you’ve got things to do?

Or does it mean not walking until your knee feels better?

And then when it does, how much walking is too much?

Does it mean avoiding exercise altogether?

Being told to rest and take painkillers is one of the most common things we hear when people are given “knee pain” advice.

This cocktail mix of rest and taking pills will do absolutely nothing to help you get back to being active…

It will 100% not get to the root cause of what caused your knee pain in the first place.

Instead of rest, you should actually move!

(So long as it’s not a serious knee injury that’s caused damage).

If you’re one of the many people suffering with knee pain, you might be worried about using your knees and might want to take some time off to let your knees heal….

But walking is a safe, low-impact activity, that can actually help get you on the road to recovery.

When we don’t move our joints, they become stiff and immobile, which can cause inflammation – which actually makes joints like our knees even MORE painful!

If you’ve suffered a serious knee injury that’s caused damage, then that’s another story altogether…

If you’re experiencing daily, annoying knee pain, then there’s some simple things you can do to keep moving, and walk safely, without making it worse.

Something as simple as changing your shoes and gentle bodyweight exercises anyone can do from the comfort of their own home, are just two examples.

When it comes to shoes, have you thought about getting a good pair of walking shoes?

They have good cushioning and shock absorption, so if your shoes are old and have lost their cushioning, you should replace them.

If you have “flat feet” (low arches, where your feet roll inwards as you walk), a shoe with enhanced support, or orthotic inserts, will help relieve the stress on your knees.

Always start your walk with a slow, gradual warm-up and try to get out for a walk during a time in the day when your knee pain isn’t so bad.

Start with show walks and build up time and distance gradually.

Doing strengthening exercises for the legs can help keep your knees in good walking condition.

Bodyweight exercises like squats, calf raises and glute bridges are good choices.

Flexibility exercises for the leg muscles help maintain movement and range of motion in your joints and reduce the amount of strain placed on them.

Always warm up before stretching and performing any of these exercises and don’t over-do it.

It’s important you never feel pain when you do these movements.

Knees are made to bend.

They’re designed to help us walk, kneel down, bend to help grab objects, walk up and down stairs – not to stay still and rest all day!

(Which is what a lot of people do!)

Start slow…

With gentle walking and strengthening exercises, and build up slowly so you can do more.

It might feel like knee pain is something you’ll have to learn to live with and might not be able to be as active as you once were – that’s not always the case.

Don’t just accept rest and taking painkillers as your only solution…

There’s a way to get back to living a life you enjoy.

Do you need help answering questions about your knee pain?  Click here to find out more and to download your FREE Knee Pain Report!

About the Author

Eric Koehler

Eric Koehler - PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, Certified Dry Needling


Dr. Eric Koehler has been working as a Physical Therapist for over 25 years in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Fox Valley area. He has a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and has completed his Fellowship in Orthopedic Manual Therapy in 2017. This level of clinic training is only attained by 1% of all Physical Therapists. Eric's mission is to provide non-surgical, non-drug approaches to help individuals overcome pain and weakness to help them get back to enjoying their life.