Sensitive knees may make it difficult for walking.  But in physical therapy we have a saying, “motion is lotion” and this applies to our knees.  Motion is recommended to maintain mobility, in order to maintain knee functionality.  To do this, walking  can actually help reduce knee pain, even if you have sensitive knees.

There are a lot of benefits to walking.  Walking can reduce stiffness and inflammation and it won’t make chronic knee pain or conditions worse.  And walking often helps to reduce arthritis symptoms, and improve quality of life!

Walking is Good For Your Knees

Have you noticed that your joints are stiff or sore in the morning or when you’ve been sitting for a long time?  By moving around you actually maintain and improve the function of your knees.  This is because your knee is composed of bone and cartilage.  Since cartilage doesn’t have a good blood supply it relies solely on joint fluid.  So moving your joints ensures that your cartilage is getting nourished by the joint fluid.

Walking is also good to maintain bone health and is recommended by the CDC.

Should You Walk With Nagging Knee Pain?

In many cases, if you have mild to moderate pain in your knees, due to osteoarthritis, walking and other low impact exercises will help to mobilize the knee, keep that joint juice flowing, which goes back to our “motion is lotion” saying.  After walking, you might find a decrease in pain and stiffness.  As always, I recommend that if you have nagging knee pain or you have sensitive knees, you should seek professional advice from a physical therapist.

Tips for Walking With “Bad” Knees

Here are simple, but effective ways to start walking while protecting your knee and reducing that nagging pain.  Following these tips will help you continue a walking program or start a walking routine despite having sensitive knees.

  • Set a goal and stick with it.  You can set a time goal, like I’m going to walk 30 minutes every day this week; or a distance goal, I’m going to walk a mile every day this week.  This is easier said than done for many of us.  Netflix is very persuasive at keeping us on our couch and working at a desk is often times inevitable.  But this is why setting an attainable goal is recommended.
  • Start slowly.  This is very important because you want to avoid muscle soreness from doing too much when you first start.  Listen to your body.  Starting any faster than what your body can physically do will set you back, because you will then need to recover for a longer period of time, which might make you lose a little of that momentum.
  • Walk for at least 10 minutes at a time.  Thirty minutes of walking is recommended, but you can build up to that if you haven’t walked that much before.  The CDC recommends, for people with arthritis, walking for about 10 minutes, three times a day.  That totals to 30 minutes a day, and 150 minutes a week.
  • Use a pedometer.  Tracking your steps is a great motivator.  A good goal is 10,000 steps, but if you’re starting at less than 2,000 steps, you will want to increase your steps slowly so that you don’t increase knee pain.  Studies have shown that walking a minimum of 6,000 steps is beneficial for people with arthritis.
  • Build up speed, length of time, and/or distance.  Build up slowly, but you can ramp up your walks by walking a little faster, walking for a longer period of time, or walking a longer distance in the coming weeks.
  • Choose the right shoes.  Wearing the wrong kind of shoes can cause more knee pain.  I recommend wearing supportive shoes with a firm heel cup.
  • Add other forms of exercises.  Other types of exercising such as cycling or swimming helps to lubricate the knee joint and it also increases muscle strength that will provide support to your knee.
  • Choose physical therapy.  Physical therapy can help your ability to walk and continue a walking routine or program.  Physical training can provide hands-on therapy for your sensitive knee, as well as prescribe exercises tailored to your specific needs that will increase the strength of muscles around your knee, help to stabilize and protect your knee, and increase joint mobility.


Walking is the easiest, most accessible, and least expensive way to increase physical activity, while also maintaining healthy knee joints.  Using these quick tips will help you get started.

If your sensitive knees are keeping you from walking or you notice an increase in pain, feel free to reach out to me.  You can call me at (305) 433-1172 or email me at jeremy@advancedpts.  I’m available to answer any of your questions.