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Garden With Less Knee Pain With These Two Exercises!

If you’re someone who loves gardening but getting up and getting down is killing your knees, I’m going to share with you two simple and easy knee pain exercises that can help you get relief  and allow you to enjoy your gardening activities without pain.

Hi, I’m Hoang Tran, an occupational therapist on a mission to help you live actively in your bodies without pain. Recently, a friend of mine confided in me about her knee pain while we were visiting her beautiful garden. She loves gardening and was worried it might be arthritis, but I assured her it wasn’t always the case. Just because you’re over 60 doesn’t automatically mean “arthritis.”

Understanding Knee Pain and its Causes

Here’s the thing: aches and pains can have many causes beyond arthritis. If you have regular old osteoarthritis, that just means we undergo some bony changes as we age. There’s not as much cushion from the fluid between our joints. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live in pain. Sometimes, it’s something simpler, like muscle imbalances. As we age, hormonal changes and a decrease in muscle strength can lead to these imbalances, causing discomfort.

As women, as we get older, we begin to experience hormonal changes—perimenopause, postmenopausal—and our bodies and muscles don’t stay as strong. We need to actively work on maintaining our strength. Sometimes, the aches and pains that we experience are a result of these changes. The good news? These imbalances can be addressed! It’s easy to fix, which is why I want to share with you two very simple exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime, requiring minimal effort. We don’t have to engage in fancy, complicated movements—just really, really simple ones.

Today, I’m excited to share with you how to relieve knee pain exercises.

Simple Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain While Gardening

Exercise #1: Seated Leg Lifts

One of the exercises is just getting up and sitting down. Start by sitting on the edge of a chair with one leg extended and the other foot flat on the floor. Instead of a simple squat, if one knee hurts while the other doesn’t, there may be a muscle imbalance between your legs, similar to the dominance in your hands. But what it does here is it really works on your butt muscles. Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair with one leg extended and the other foot flat on the floor. Instead of a simple squat, if one knee hurts while the other doesn’t,there may be a muscle imbalance between your muscles. Either one leg is always stronger than the other leg, just like your hands; we have a dominant hand and a non-dominant hand. Sometimes one is stronger than the other just based on how we use it. So, it’s the same with our legs. To address this, try putting one leg up and one leg out, then stand up and sit down, resting your heel on the floor. 

Then you can switch legs and say, ‘Okay, which leg is easier? Which leg is stronger? I’m going to do the stronger leg.’ Believe it or not, I know it’s counterintuitive. You’re like, ‘Oh, but let me work on my weaker one.’ This works. Try it out. It’s like magic.

So you’re going to sit on the edge, put your heel forward, get up, and get down.  Repeat this movement 10 times on each leg, focusing on the side that feels stronger. This exercise helps strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, providing support and stability during activities like gardening.

Perform this exercise every time you get up from meals or the computer. It’s a simple yet effective way to strengthen your hips and butt muscles, making your knees stronger and more supportive. Now you can garden and get on and off the floor without any issue. Okay, that’s exercise number one.

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Watch the full YouTube video: Garden With Less Knee Pain With These Two Exercises!

Exercise #2: Modified Side Plank

For the second exercise, we’ll focus on strengthening the muscles on the sides of the knees. You can do this exercise on a mat, the floor, or even on your bed, although the floor might offer better stability. So, what you’re going to do is what I call a side plank but on your knees. 

  1. Prop yourself up on your forearms, with your elbows directly under your shoulders.
  2. Keep your hips stacked directly over your knees and engage your core muscles.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground, forming a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then lower yourself back down. Repeat on both sides.

Try it on both sides and determine which side is stronger or feels better. Focus on the side that feels easier or more comfortable to hold. Repeat on each side, paying attention to any imbalances and focusing on the side that feels stronger.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Incorporating these two exercises into your routine can help alleviate knee pain and improve your ability to enjoy gardening and other activities. Remember to listen to your body and start slowly, gradually increasing repetitions as you feel comfortable. Additionally, if you’re experiencing persistent or severe knee pain, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment.

As an occupational therapist, I’m passionate about empowering individuals to live their lives to the fullest, free from pain and limitations. If you’re in the Miami area and seeking an occupational therapist, don’t hesitate to reach out to my clinic: Hands-on Therapy Services. Together, we can work towards a pain-free and active lifestyle.

Let’s cultivate a future where knee pain doesn’t hinder our love for gardening and outdoor activities. Here’s to happier knees and more enjoyable moments spent in the garden!

About the author – Hoang Tran – an expert in occupational therapy

Hoang Tran is a certified hand therapist, the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services, and the author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand, neck, and shoulder problems because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!).

The aim of her Miami occupational therapy clinic is to help her clients live active pain-free lives, without pills, injections, or surgery. Occupational and Physical Therapy are offered at Hands-On Therapy by our experienced therapists who provide a comprehensive approach to your care. 

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*** If you are an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or certified hand therapist who wants to learn and develop your skills in hand therapy, please visit Hoang Tran’s program.

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