Ask the Experts: Dr. Emily’s Advice for Knee Safety in Exercise


“I have a full knee replacement and would like to know which exercises I can do without damaging my knees.” – Jenny


Hi Jenny,

This is a great question and is applicable to anyone who has general knee pain or knee osteoarthritis. Stabilization of the knee is critical before beginning any lower body workout. You can do this by doing hip-strengthening exercises first. Once you have the knee stabilization, you should be able to do most lower body exercises without the risk of damaging your knees.

Some of the best hip-strengthening exercises include:

  • Side-Plank Leg Abduction
  • Glute Bridges
  • Standing Single-Leg Abduction
  • Single Leg Squats

We have instructions for some of these exercises here on the blog, but if you have any questions, ask a personal trainer to demonstrate the move with you.

Some key guidelines to always remember for a knee-friendly lower body workout include:

  • Always start with hip-strengthening exercises to warm-up.
  • For all lower body exercises, always make sure the knees stay in line with the feet.
  • When squatting and lunging, make sure the knees never cross over the toes.
  • Avoid plyometrics or jump-squats, which increase pressure in the knees.

Remember to discuss any new workout routine with your own physician before you go to the gym to make sure that exercise is safe for you.

Dr. Emily, Fitness Director at Lucille Roberts

Lucille Roberts Staff


  1. Hi,

    I have a family history of bad knees and I feel it in my knees when I do aerobics and the plyometrics. I am only 31 and have no real issue at this time. What kind of precautions can I take and should I avoid workouts that put pressure on the knees?

    • Great question! We’ll make sure Dr. Emily sees it so she can get back to you.

    • Here’s Dr. Emily’s reply:

      Tight and weak muscles are often to blame for knee pain at such a young age. Unfortunately due to the unique placement of the knee joint between the foot and hip – and weakness or imbalance in either of these two areas will effect the knees. Simply avoiding exercises that cause knee pain is not the solution to the problem, instead try and increase your pelvis flexibility, hip strength and ankle mobility.

      I recommend integrating daily – yes daily – hip flexor and ankle stretching. Because many of us sit for work, chronic hip flexor tightness is frequently a cause of knee pain when exercising.

      Hip Flexor Stretch

      Sart by standing in a lunge position. Tuck your pelvis under and squeeze your abdominals and glutes. You should begin to feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

      Calf Stretch

      There are many ways to stretch your calves including the downward facing dog, dropping your heels off of a step or sitting with your legs straight and reaching for your feet. Pick your favorite stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

      To strengthen your hip, three of the best exercises include:

      Glute Bridge
      Side Plank Leg Abduction
      Standing Leg Abduction

      -Dr. Emily

    • Maria – Check out the video we posted on the blog today about knee safety while working out. Dr. Emily shows some good stretches you can do.

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