Help with what workouts for ongoing knee pain?


Hi there,

I've been exercising with Cathe workouts for 20 years but about 18 months ago I injured my knee (doing a warmup side-to-side lunge of all things in one of the 4DS workouts). I've had MRIs and x-rays and everything looks fine. I switched from my HiiT, high impact, and step training to mostly walking and yoga. I've been careful about my nutrition so haven't gained weight but I'm more concerned with my tone, heart-health and strength going forward. It was nice to get a bit of a break with the walking and yoga - great for clearing my mind... but I'd like to get back to my Cathe workouts, if possible. I can do jumping jacks but have a hard time doing the low impact series workouts because I just can't do hundreds of squats and lunges in time to the beat of the music (also endless hydrants on my knees aren't great... same thing with bent-knee, weight supported barre work). I can do very slow and controlled squats and lunges on some days (without weights) but can't do any like to the beat of the music like I used to. <insert big, ugly cry, sad face> I used to do the monthly Cathe rotations and am so bummed that I'm at this point. I figured I would be around 65 before having to modify my Cathes (which puts me about 25 years ahead of schedule, such the overachiever).

Any others out there with a similar situation or any forum threads I should check out (I did a search but every time the word knee came up I got a result so had thousands of non-relevant threads to go though)? If you're in the same situation, can you share what your rotations look like (Cathe or non-Cathe)?

I've pre-ordered the new ICE series and saw that there's a "no squats and lunges" workout which I'm *thrilled* about... I'm just hoping to find a few more options to put in my rotation to fill things out and get back in optimal shape again... even if optimal looks different than it did a year and a half ago.

Thanks so much for any support and suggestions!
Hey Lisa,
I really think the ICE series will suit your needs. Also, keep on walking. Perhaps try some walking workout dvds or youtube videos. I love walking!
Pilates workouts with tubing would be suitable as well I think.
I also think that when when do have needs or limits like this we do HAVE to modify and be mindful of it ourselves. Yes, you CAN do jumping jacks, but do you truly need to be doing them to get something out of your workout if your body isn't feeling it? I modify jumping jacks 80% of the time and I am in my thirties. I also cannot do the pace of lunges from nearly any DVD, so I do them more controlled at my own pace. I am so looking forward to ICE no lunges lower body workout!! :)
I'm happy to hear that your tests came back negative! Good news. I would still follow up with a physical therapist, though. The issue isn't skeletal or affecting your tissues. Yes! That's great. Although, there is a possiblity that something else is going on. Or you may simply have to re-learn certain planes of mobility which a PT could help you with (in a short amount of time). Maybe your quad muscles have shortened and it is affecting your knees for example. Figuring out what has happened will help you.
I dont have a rotation to share. I'm sure someone will come by and share! :)

Take care
I too modify Cathe's speed on certain moves, esp. side to side lunges with weights. I find that if I don't go slower and really "stick my butt out", I get a little pain in my left knee. I also find more lower impact workouts sometimes bother my knee and back more than higher impact. I think it's more of the pivoting on the toes instead of lifting that bothers me. When I changed the type of workout shoe I was wearing also made things better for my knee during most workouts. So it could also be your shoes. I would say just work at your own pace and don't be afraid of the pause button. Cathe even says it during live workouts, better to go slower with better form than just whip it out. Just focus on what you can do and don't sweat what you can't and just modify. It happens to all of us. Best of luck.
Thanks Elsie & Firemedic.

I was able to do MMA Fusion yesterday and modified the fast-paced, single lunges into slow, triple lunges and was fine. I'll slowly start adding things back in and seeing what works and what doesn't. Today is an upper body split workout so all should be good.

I was seeing a PT for a long time and still do my band exercises at home a few times a week. I also teach (and practice) yoga and find that when I work on hip flexor openers, I have less pain in my knee. Though I also had no pain when I didn't walk or do anything truly active for 3 days (which is NOT sustainable, as I want to be exercising).

I'm eagerly awaiting the ICE arrival. :D
Hi Lisa,

I completely understand your pain. I'm glad you've seen a doctor and had tests and worked with a physical therapist. It may just be that you have to accept your body for what it is able to do and be happy that you still GET to walk and GET to do yoga and GET to do all the things you can still do! It's hard, I know. Have you had any thoughts about water aerobics/training? The nice part about deep water "running" is that it hits the muscles from all angles. I used this to rehab my ankle.

Please know that you're not alone in your frustration. As Cathe says, "Listen to your body"-it's the only one you've got!

Ah Lisa, you are a yoga instructor! :) That's cool. The hips and knees of course are along the same meridian lines.
I use tubing as well for my exercises all of the time. I wouldn't be without them!!
I find that if I don't go slower and really "stick my butt out", I get a little pain in my left knee.

@firemedic , Spot on Kim

It is really all about listening to the body ---- I can not get sloppy and neglect the sticking out technique. Oh well this might sound gross
for some but I would rather stick it out as far as possible for my knees sake:eek::eek::):) if I don't I feel it within seconds!
That way I keep my knees healthy and happy and I also gain a strong rear in the process;);)
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Any others out there with a similar situation or any forum threads I should check out (I did a search but every time the word knee came up I got a result so had thousands of non-relevant threads to go though)? If you're in the same situation, can you share what your rotations look like (Cathe or non-Cathe)?


Welcome back to the training. I do not have any rotation to recommend, I am afraid. I haven't been in the situation.
I just would like to wish you a prompt and smooth rehabilitation.

I feel your pain! I was unclipping my foot from a bike pedal and just tweaked my knee in a way I never felt before. I found out I ended up doing a number on both my ACL and LCL and was told surgery would probably be necessary. All from one little twist in trying to exit my stationary bike! I did not like the sound of that and decided to take matters into my own hands. (Requisite disclaimer - I am not telling anyone to not listen to their doctor and become their own doctor. I just know my body and have been recommended a few surgeries before for other body parts. Surgery I never had and surgery I never ended up needing...)

I rested/iced my knee totally for a week then tried to do Low Impact work - it killed my knee. Getting out of a chair killed it. Sitting cross legged on the bed killed it. Pressing the gas pedal in the car killed it. I then decided to do my own PT. I found this site:

And did these exercises, along with a few of my own every single day for 2 months. I did them very slow and it took about an hour every day. At first I couldn't do them without support (holding onto a chair, or putting most of my weight on my non-injured knee). I still rested and iced my knee daily. I also rubbed my knee (like massage) daily. I started getting better after one month - however, I got cocky and tried doing a Low Impact cardio exercise and immediately felt it, so I stopped. (A month after the injury, forward movement seemed fine, but side to side movement still caused a bit of pain - I really felt it when I tried to do the Low Impact Cardio with any side movement. Also, I thought I could do upper body weights, but I could feel the pain in my knee from my body trying to stabilize doing upper body weights, therefore I stopped.) I continued the exercises above, ice and massage for another full month and did nothing else. At the end of month 2 of just those exercises, I tried a low impact cardio and again - forward movement/upward movement was fine, but lateral movement immediately caused pain. I stopped again and continued the above exercises, ice, massage and added PiYo. It was my first time doing PiYo and some movements had to be modified, but it was a "good painful stretch" for my knee.

By the end of three months, I again tried low impact cardio and could slightly feel lateral movements, but it was more of a tightness feeling rather than pain, therefore I continued cardio. I then did full on high impact cardio the next day (I realized FOR ME, it wasn't the low versus high impact that made a difference, it was forward/upward movement versus lateral movement that I had to be cognizant of). After a week of realizing I could do full on Cathe Cardio with only the slight tightness feeling - while still being VERY cognizant/careful, I then started an STS rotation followed by a Body Beast Rotation without any issues.

Once in awhile I will still feel the tightness or quick jolt in that knee, but it is mainly when I am doing my stretches versus actual exercises. About 3 weeks ago, I did some of the knee exercises listed above that I had had a really hard time with when I was injured - just to see if I still would have a hard time. I didn't. I thought the exercises were easy and didn't feel anything at all. Therefore, I am now incorporating these knee exercises once a week into my routine just to keep my knees strong and flexible. I also wore a knee strap when I first started STS, but forgot to keep wearing it, so am not sure if that helped or not.

Obviously I don't know what happened to your knee and if any of this will help, but for me, just letting the knee totally rest and doing these exercises slowly and diligently really did the trick for me. I had read before that the majority of knee pain caused by exercise (not necessarily caused by a trauma like you had) is because the ligaments and muscles around the knee are weak and once those become strong, the knee pain goes away. That is why I decided to really focus on strengthening everything surrounding my knee while letting it rest at the same time. (Did that make sense?)

This was over the summer time and I am really used to doing full-on Cathe, so it was difficult to not do any weights/cardio and then do these exercises very very slowly for an hour a day. Good luck in finding something that works for you! Sounds like some of the modifications have already worked for you.

some of the extra exercises I added that really helped were:
*Sit on floor cross legged (right leg on top of left) and lean forward. Then switch legs (left leg on top of right). Sounds so simple when not injured, but killed when injured!
*Sit on chair with left foot on floor. Cross right leg onto left leg (put right ankle on left knee). Lean forward. Switch.
*Lie on back with left leg bent and left foot on ground. Cross right ankle onto left knee. Reach arms through to hold your left shin and pull your legs to your chest (while keeping the shape of the number 4 with your legs)
*Sit on butt on floor. Bend both knees to the same side and rest legs on floor, knees still bent. Lean forward. This one KILLED me, but I think it helped me the most.

Oh, and I never needed surgery!!!

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