Knee pain and 30 Day Shred
I recently received an email from someone asking me if I could suggest any alternatives to the 30 Day Shred workout, because although she loves the results, she doesn’t love the ongoing knee pain she’s experiencing.
Aching knees are a common complaint about 30 Day Shred, particularly if you aren’t used to working out that strenuously. It may be a short program, but if you’ve tried it, you know it’s definitely not easy. There are a number of possibilities for why your knees may be hurting—and if things are REALLY uncomfortable, like you can’t bear weight on your knee or you have visible swelling, you should absolutely see a doctor to figure out what’s going on—but the likely culprit is inflammation caused by over-fatigued supporting muscles.
People tend to think they have bad knees when in fact what they have are weak legs. If the muscles that support your knees aren’t adequately supporting the knee joint or absorbing shock before it gets to the knee, the extra stress placed upon your knee can cause injury. Muscles and tendons get inflamed, things hurt, you end up throwing the DVD out the window because hey, this sucks.
The main muscle groups affecting knee stability are your quadriceps and hamstrings, and to a lesser degree, your calf muscles and hip abductors. If you think about the lower-body exercises you’re doing in 30DS—the lunges, squats, jumps, etc—you’re really working the hell out of all those muscles. Which is a good thing! Except if some of those muscle groups get tired too soon, or simply don’t have enough strength, your knees may not be stabilized properly during your workout. The kneecap can pull and twist to the side because the supporting muscles aren’t holding it in place.
Most knee pain can be corrected. What you want to do is two things: 1) strengthen the muscles that support the knee, and 2) stretch those muscles. Some handy links:
Everyone’s pain tolerance is different and I am most definitely not a medical expert, so I can’t say whether or not you should stop doing 30DS altogether if it makes your knees hurt. I would say that it’s probably worth your while to put some time into strengthening your legs regardless of whether you continue with 30DS, because it will help you avoid knee injury in the future. One idea would be to switch to a non-weight-bearing exercise for a while (like biking or swimming), while separately working on increasing leg strength and flexibility.
Dealing with any existing knee pain so you can incorporate impact/weight-bearing exercises into your fitness routine not only opens up your fitness choices, but may also be a key factor in enhancing your bone health. Plus, it’ll help you be more capable of doing your usual daily activities, like hauling tantruming children from place to place, getting down on the floor to fish LEGOs from underneath the highchair, catching toddlers as they plummet off couches, etc.