Sports That Are Bad for the Knees

While hiking or jogging may seem like low-impact activities, the terrain may add undue stress to your knees.
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According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, knee injuries usually are caused by overuse or impact. Preventing injury of the knees during sports is crucial for any age or fitness level. If you are searching for ways to stay active and participate in team or individual sports but would like to avoid undue stress to your knees, avoid physical activities that will stress them.

Recreational Sports

    While tennis might seem like a casual sport, if you aren't careful, it can place a lot of strain on your knees. The quick pivots and short sprints needed for this racket sport require agility and stabilizing muscles. If tennis is something you enjoy doing, try to find courts that have softer surfaces like grass or carpet.

    Table tennis and badminton are low-impact alternatives to tennis. Many of the same skills are required without the strenuous activity of sprinting and lunging on harder surfaces.

    Proper form is essential in maintaining knee support in tennis.

Team Sports

    Team sports, like basketball, soccer, football and hockey, are impact sports where physical and aggressive contact with other players is common. Aside from the jumps, landings, pivots and sprints that are required in many team sports, the impact from other players can cause injury.

    If you want to continue playing these sports but are concerned about knee injury, look for alternatives. Many leagues offer no-contact activity that can enable you to enjoy the sport without fear of strain.

    A jump shot with a blind landing is a very common cause of knee injury.

Individual Sports

    Running is a fitness activity and a sport, and the harder you train the more susceptible you are to injuries to your knee because of repetitive contact with varying surfaces. Runner's knee is the softening and breakdown of the cartilage on the patella, which causes pain in the underlying bone and irritation of the joint lining. If a knee is out of alignment, then the irritation will only heighten, which may cause damage if it is not treated by a medical professional.

    Excellent alternatives for this cardiovascular sport are swimming and biking. Cyclists are able to stabilize and support their knees while strengthening the muscles and ligaments surrounding them. Swimmers are able to compete and train with very-low impact to the knees.

    Different terrains -- such as sand or grass -- can challenge you more as a runner and be safer for your knees.


    Always use caution when participating in any physical activity. Stretching is important before and after playing sports. Stretch properly and thoroughly, especially if the sport you play requires complete extension of the knee. Hyperextension of the knee can occur if you do not warm up properly. Standing on both feet, raise the heel of your foot slowly to your buttocks. Hold this pose gently with your hand for 15 to 20 seconds, lower your foot and perform the same stretch on the other knee. If you have a history of knee-related issues, seek professional medical advice before continuing or beginning a new sport.

    Seek help on stretching techniques from a certified professional.

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