Exercising With a Bruised Knee

A woman is sitting on a stationary bike.
Image Credit: Andrejs Pidjass/Hemera/Getty Images

A bruised knee can make exercising uncomfortable, but it doesn't have to keep you sidelined. Athletes, dancers and everyday people exercise with a bruised knee. If your doctor has given you the OK to workout, you can still do your cardio and strength-training exercises. Knowing what to do and what not to do can help you exercise safely until your knee is completely healed.


Bruised Knee Causes

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A bruised knee is an injury that generally results from falling onto your knee or being hit directly by an object. Your knee may turn black and blue, and you may experience swelling -- as well as pain when you move it. A fall on a slippery driveway or getting hit on the knee by a flying racquetball can cause bruising. Repeated pressure on the knee -- such as kneeling all the time -- and overuse can also lead to a bruised knee.

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Before Exercising

Your pre-exercise routine can protect your knee as it heals and make exercising more comfortable. Warm up for five to 10 minutes with a light walk or slow bike ride before you start exercising. Wear a protective knee pad to avoid further injury. When your workout is complete, perform some stretches that increase flexibility in the muscles surrounding your knees. Include hamstring, quad and calf stretches as well as crossovers. Lie on your back to perform crossovers. Keep your left leg flat on the floor while bending your right leg at the knee. Raise your right knee slightly, and bring it over your body toward the left. Gently pull your knee toward the floor to feel a stretch. Stretch only far enough to feel the muscles stretching without any pain to your knee.


Ice It

Following your exercise session, rest your bruised knee while applying ice. After the first day of injury to your knee, you should apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes, four times per day. On the first day, you can apply ice for 15 minutes of every hour. You can also take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication or acetaminophen for pain relief.


Exercising Despite a Bruised Knee

You can still get your sweat on and enjoy an aerobic workout with a bruised knee. Exercises with a reduced impact or that don't require your body to quickly change directions -- like basketball -- are effective choices when working out while your knee heals. Walk, bicycle or use an elliptical machine to perform your cardio workout. If you'd rather give your knee a break but don't want to skip exercise altogether, you can go swimming.


Get your strength training workout in by focusing on your upper body until the bruising goes down on your knee. Sit while doing bicep curls, tricep kickbacks. lateral pull-downs, and chest and shoulder presses.

Exercises to Avoid as Your Knee Heals

Exercises that involve high impact to your knees, such as plyometrics or sprinting, or a quick change of direction should be avoided while your bruised knee heals. Skip tennis, racquetball, football and basketball until your knee is better. If you suddenly can't bear weight on your bruised knee, you have increased swelling and bluish calf discoloration, or if your knee buckles, stop exercising and see your physician.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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