Knee pain is a common, particularly for older adults. As you fight against gravity to move, it can become difficult to walk, climb the stairs, or get into and out of a chair. Knees endure a lot of wear and tear over the years.
Knees are the largest joint of the body. Apart from the natural, inevitable aging of knee joints, other factors can contribute to pain. Osteoarthritis, injury, lack of muscle strength, excess body weight, and flexibility can all cause or add to knee problems.
Injury to the knee can also cause acute, dull, chronic pain. It can result from a previous trauma or due to repetitive stress from kneeling, running, jogging etc. If left untreated, the injury can eventually develop into osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease where the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down and causes pain, stiffness, immobility and swelling. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 32.5 million adults in the U.S have osteoarthritis.
Your knees are susceptible to more pain when you’re overweight since there is extra stress on these weight-bearing joints. Since the knees take up one and a half times your weight, excess body weight not only speeds up joint deterioration but also increases your risk of osteoarthritis.
Similarly, when muscles turn weak or inflexible they add undue stress on the joints. Without flexibility and muscular strength to safely support your full range of motion, your knees are at a higher risk of injury.
One of the ways to protect your knees is prevention. Don’t wait until it gets painful as pain indicates development of a medical issue. Preventing injuries and maintaining good knee joint health can help you stay mobile and pain free.
The best way to take care of your knee joint health is by:
1. Losing excess weight: Extra pounds add extra stress to the knees. Even losing 10 pounds can make a significant impact on your knee health.
2. Maintain good posture: Bad posture is a major cause of joint pain. Don’t slouch, stand straight. Stretch those leg muscles to support your full range of motion. Add yoga into your stretching routine.
3. Perform low-impact exercises: Knee joints are stabilized by leg muscles and ligaments. Muscle strengthening exercises and cardiovascular activities like cycling, step ups and swimming can help you protect the cartilage of your knees.
4. Be cautious while lifting heavy weights: Bend your knees, squat down and pick up the weight. Straighten the legs while lifting.
5. Wear proper footwear: Sometimes, fashionable shoes can be very hard on the knees. Heels that are over an inch tall throw the spine out of alignment, force the calf muscles to tighten and add pressure on the ankle and knee joints.
Mix up your workout routine. Exercises that put repetitive stress on your knees can increase your risk of developing a knee problems.
Remember, there is no shortcut to keeping your knees healthy. Eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, get plenty of exercise, maintain a healthy weight, get adequate sleep and enjoy time with friends and family.
No matter your age, you can help protect the health of your knees by adopting these simple lifestyle habits. Check with a medical provider before beginning a new workout regime.
For more tips on how to keep your knee joints healthy or if you are experiencing knee pain, book an appointment with DrNewMed. Our goal is to improve your mobility and quality of life as quickly as possible.