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Gentle walking can be a great activity for recovering knees.
Knee injuries often require long periods of time to completely heal. To remain fit while your knee recovers, choose activities that won't strain the area. Walking and using a treadmill can both be tough on knees, but you can do both safely if you follow a few precautions.
Consider Surface Texture
The impact that your leg absorbs as you move will affect how your knee responds to the activity. Hard surfaces like concrete will send more shock into your leg. So if you walk on concrete or a similar surface, the rubber tread of the treadmill will be a better choice. However, grass, wood chips or even a squishy asphalt will offer less impact than the treadmill surface and will be a safer choice for those with knee injuries. Overly soft surfaces, like sand, will be as hard on the knees as overly hard surfaces, so walking on these terrains will be less beneficial than using a treadmill.
Control the Incline
Walking up or down inclined surfaces will tax the knee joint and could risk aggravating your injury. Treadmills offer you complete control of the incline of your walking surface, and after a knee injury, it will be best to leave the treadmill at a completely flat setting. If you cannot control the incline of your walking path, avoid any potential inclines that may damage a sensitive knee.
Keep It Slow
Whether walking on a real surface or a treadmill, maintain a slow, steady pace as you move. Running is a high-impact activity, and the strain on your joints can damage knees, especially those that are already injured. Treadmills allow you to monitor and maintain your pace through the automated speed settings. If you walk, try using a pedometer as a way to check your pace and keep yourself from walking too quickly.
Practice Good Form
No matter which option you choose, maintain an upright posture as you move. Treadmills offer handles that may encourage you to lean as you walk, increasing the risk of injury. Whether you walk or use a treadmill, stay focused on engaging your core muscles to help support the weight of your body. Supportive shoes will also reduce knee impact. Choose shoes with padded soles, and find styles that offer ankle support and straightening if your feet tend to pronate as you walk.