Knee Osteoarthritis: Is walking good for my knees?

As a chiropractor that works with both chronic knee pain and functional movement training, I often hear people saying that walking or running is bad for their knee joints. The (false) belief often stem from the wear and tear narrative, where the use of your joints is assumed to cause degeneration and can lead to osteoarthritis.

Well, the good news, really, is that there is no good research that can back up the “wear and tear” narrative. In fact, the best recovery programmes for osteoarthritis, from knee to hip to low back, all involved exercising and loading your joints!

What does this tell us?

You need to use your joints to promote good joint health!

Will walking worsen my knee degeneration?

knee pain singapore, xray wear and tear
This is a x-ray of a 57-year old teacher who suffered from knee pain. She had knee pain for most of her adult life due to an injury as a teenager. Her knees showed signs of severe “degeneration” since her early 40s. She was also sedentary and overweight. She described her knee pain as 9/10. This patient was put on the wait-list for a total knee replacement surgery. While on the waiting list for knee surgery, she started to exercise under professional supervision. After a year, she described her pain as 1/10 and was subsequently removed from the waitlist.

The short answer is no. A study published last month looking at a whopping 1212 patients with osteoarthritis, all 50+ years and above, found that walking doesn’t worsen osteoarthritic knee. To be even clearer, walking doesn’t damage your knee joint! In fact, the study found that knee pain improved among those who walked frequently.

The author even go as far as to encourage walking for people with knee degeneration.

What about running? Will it damage my knees?

Also, no! Again, there is no merit to the wear and tear narrative. With this in view, there is no reason to believe that running is bad for your knees.

Of course we have studies to back this up.

A 2019 study recruited 82 individuals with knee damage (shown on MRI) and made them run a marathon! As part of the study, MRI images were taken before and after the training + marathon. Despite going through a 4-month running training and completing the marathon, the participants showed a reduction in damage to the subchondral bone marrow oedema in the condyles of the tibia and femur.

To put it in other words, running could potentially reverse joint damage of the knees!

My knee hurts when I walk or run, should I keep running?

No. If your knee hurts with certain activities (e.g., running, walking, squatting), it is always a good idea to seek a professional opinion before continuing with the activity.

Sure, pain doesn’t always equals to damage. But that doesn’t pain is always good for you!

If there are any injury or underlying condition that is contributing to your knee pain, it is always a good idea to get it professionally assessed before continuing with your exercises or activities.

Weight lifting can be your knee pain solution

old woman kettlebell, knee pain singapore, knee pain

Meet Pauline. At 76 years old with arthritic knees, not only does she lift weights. She competes in national powerlifting competitions!

Like yourself, Pauline doesn’t have great knees. She has arthritis in both knees and also a torn meniscus. Thankfully, her physiotherapist recommended her that she did strength training for her rehab. Things couldn’t have gone better.

Pauline had since gone to break three state powerlifting records.

You think exercise is going to hurt you. Maybe, if done poorly.

However, exercise when done correctly can be the single thing that protects you from pain and injury!

We are super happy to see more and more patients sharing their recovery success in mainstream media.

There’s no need to be afraid of lifting weights. In fact, powerlifting can be the pain solution you are looking for.

Drop us a message to find out how our chiropractor and powerlifting coach can work together to help you find true freedom from pain.

Chiropractic treatment for knee osteoarthritis

A lot of you may be tempted to seek traditional chiropractic adjustments for your knee pain. However, at this point, there’s no credible research that suggest that spinal adjustments (or even knee adjustments) could help with your arthritic pain.

It may surprise you but chiropractors are trained musculoskeletal health experts that can help you with your knee rehabilitation needs. In fact, exercise has been part of chiropractic since its founding days.

With our personalised approach to pain management, all of you will see improvements in your knee condition! Be it improvements in pain, function, strength, or mobility, our recovery programme has helped many patients with their arthritic knees.

For some of you, you may even continue with weightlifting!

Is exercise even part of chiropractic?

chiropractic clinic singapore


Exercise is a big part of chiropractic since the very beginning. Early chiropractors used exercise to help patients achieve alignment of their spines. What we are doing at our practice is 100% part of chiropractic.

Unfortunately, many chiropractors in Singapore choose to not offer exercise as part of their treatment approach. The reason is because exercise as a treatment takes consideration longer time than just a five-minute full spine adjustment.

Furthermore, the relief from getting cracked is fairly short. Research suggests that it lasts for only 30 minutes. Many chiropractic patients will experience relief for a couple of days at most. This means they will need regular treatments. For this reason, choosing to mainly offer spinal adjustments is good for business! You have to keep coming back for more!

With the growth of science and research, we starting to learn more about body, and what actually helps with recovery. Both chiropractors and pain patients alike would have to keep up in order to achieve good outcomes. Yes, all of us have our own biases, beliefs, values. We are not denying that.

What we are saying is that, at some point, all of these have to go if we want good outcomes. We have to keep up with times. Especially if you are not getting better.

Have a think about it. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. What you need for extraordinary results is a radical change. This can start with the type of treatments you choose.


Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.