5 Joint Friendly Low-Impact Sports For People With Knee Pain


Knee injuries are one of the most common reasons people see their doctor or visit the emergency room.

According to the American Academy Of Orthopaedic Surgeons, approximately 10.4 million people sought medical treatment in 2010 for knee problems.

However, just because you have suffered an injury or have knee pain it does not mean you cannot participate in sports you enjoy.

Below is an overview of knee pain and 7 low impact sports that you may be able to do without increasing your pain.

Types Of Knee Pain


The knee joint is a combination of ligaments, tendons, bones and cartilage.

Since it is so complex, injuries are common and can be painful. Some of the most common knee injuries include:

  • Dislocation
  • Patellar Fractures
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Meniscus Tears
  • Torn Tendons

Getting Back In The Game

After a knee injury, you may be nervous about getting back into sports if you still have knee pain. However, there are many sports that are joint friendly because they are low impact.

Typically, these types of sports do not increase knee pain. The key to getting active again is to take it slowly and stop if your knee pain increases.

The following is a list of five sports that you may be able to do without increasing pain.


Swimming is one of the best aerobic activities and it is also low impact, making it a great choice for people with knee pain. Since swimming is a non-weight bearing activity, it is easy on your joints.

According to Bucknell University, some of the primary benefits of swimming include increased fitness, reduced stress and also has therapeutic qualities for those recovering from accidents.


Yoga concentrates on flexibility and meditation of the mind. This sport is great for people who have joint pain.

Practicing yoga on a regular basis will improve flexibility, reduce stress and prevent overall body stiffness.

However, you must be aware of your body mechanics while participating in yoga. Avoid twisting movements that may increase pain or place a strain on the knee joint.


Walking is one of the best ways to get active after a knee injury. There is far less impact during walking than running or jogging, making it an ideal post knee injury workout.

As with any new activity, start slowly and work up toward longer distances as tolerated.


When you play golf, you typically walk long distances which is great exercise for your knee.

Before playing golf, be sure to warm-up thoroughly and avoid twisting your knee while your foot is planted in the ground.


Bowling is a low impact and joint friendly sport, which is why you should add it to your sports routine after a knee injury.

When you bowl, you use a ball which may be heavy so use a lighter ball until you see how bowling affects your knee. Be sure to start with just a game or two in the beginning, so you don’t overdo it.

Warning Signs

warning signs of knee injury

If you try a new sport or activity after a knee injury, you must be aware of the warning signs that may require medical treatment. Some signs of trouble include:

  • Hearing An Audible Popping Sound
  • Sudden Increase In Sharp Pain
  • Swelling Of The Knee Joint
  • Difficulty Walking Without Limping

Contributing Factors to Knee Damage


According to WebMD.com, there are several things that may cause increased damage to your knees including:

Being Overweight

If your legs have to carry around extra body weight, it may damage your knees over time.

Being overweight may also increase knee pain associated with arthritic conditions. To lose weight for knee health, choose a low impact moderate exercise.

Exercising Through Pain

Ignoring knee pain can lead to increased injury and knee damage. Many people spend far more time rehabbing their knees because they didn’t stop exercising or see a doctor.

Learn to listen to your body when participating in sports, stop if you have a sudden onset of pain.

Doing Too Much Too Fast

When you first return to sports and exercise after a knee injury, start out slowly to determine your tolerance for exercise. If you are unsure where to start, talk to your doctor before beginning.

The Takeaway

Having knee pain doesn’t mean you can’t be active and find a sport you love. Choosing low impact sports that are easy on your joints is the best way to avoid re-injury and increased knee pain.

As with any sport, always consult with your doctor before beginning to be sure the sport you have chosen is safe for your knees.

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