LONG-TERM pain in any of your body parts can disrupt your life. Knee pain is one such pain that can arise from an injury to even the smallest part of your knee. It can also happen due to overuse of your knees in childhood or adulthood.
Ways To Improve Strength And Flexibility Of Your Knees
Although ligament injury can occur during sports and are hard to avoid, here I share several tips to look after your knees.
One of the most common causes for severe pain in the knee joint is inflammation that can occur due to advanced wear and tear of the cartilage on the moving surfaces of the knee joint.
The inflammation from the worn out particles of cartilage, if overlooked, leads to insistent swelling, stiffness, loss of range of motion and deformity of osteoarthritis.
Knee pain may also arise from outside the knee like bursitis, which is induced by inflammation of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac, in front of the knee. It is typically occasional and mild to begin with but can grow in to insistent, acute and hard to mitigate, so prevention is the key.
Here are my tips to help you keep your knees in good condition and to relieve pain when it first arises. These vital steps will improve the overall strength and flexibility of your knees:
1. Slim Down If You’re Overweight: Do you know what is the number-one secret for happy knees? Manage your weight. Experts calculate that for every extra pound weight you gain, you body exerts about 4 extra pounds of weight on your knees when you walk or take the stairs.
In other words, every pound you lose gets rid of 4 pounds of pressure off your knees. That directly reduces wear and tear in the knee joint. So, even losing a few pounds can make a difference to easing knee pain and preventing it in the first place. You may, as a matter of fact, slow the progress of arthritis if you shed a significant amount of weight.
According to Sara Edwards, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago: “Women often come in complaining of knee pain, and it turns out it started after they put on just 5 or 10 pounds. Once they lose that excess weight, the symptoms improve—and sometimes even disappear.”
Tip: Do a gentle exercise like swimming or cycling that doesn’t place any strain on joints as well as eat a low-calorie diet.
2. Build Stronger Muscles Around Your Joints: The hamstrings, in the back of your thigh, and the quadriceps, the muscles in the front of your thigh, are crucial shock and impact absorbers. They enable your body to absorb some of the shock that mechanically jerk your joint when you move around during the day.
Endeavor to strengthen the muscles that surround your knee joint. To alleviate arthritis symptoms in your knee, strengthen the quadriceps as well as the hamstrings. Talk to a physical therapist or personal trainer with experience in working with people with arthritis to explain you exercises that will help strengthening them.
Tip: Work your inner thighs. Strong hip adductor muscles (a.k.a. inner thigh muscles) are necessary for absorbing impact while you walk. This ensures that you don’t strain your knees. A simple way to start is: Try squeezing your knees together whenever you’re sitting.
3. Do Aerobic Exercise: Arthritis pain may make you averse to work out. But, many studies have shown that pain and stiffness become worse when you aren’t active enough. Regular exercise that makes your heart pumping will increase your blood flow, which maintains cartilage well nurtured. And the bonus is: it helps managing your weight.
(i) Stay as active as you can put up with. Make sure to avoid high-impact activities, like jumping and running. Continuing with high-impact exercise could just make things worse.
(ii) Better options are gentler activities like walking, cycling, yoga and swimming, at least for a while to let the inflammation go down. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week.
(iii) Cycling is a proven way to help cartilage to recover and heal. You can cycle to work or to the shops. You can even get a cycling machine that sits under your desk.
(iv) Make sure your bike seat is set high enough so that your knee straightens out when the pedal is at its lowest point.
Useful Related Post: Exercise For Knee Arthritis
4. Stretch Every Day: It helps improve the ability to move your joints and sustain range of motion. This not only avoids stiffness but also helps save the cartilage from more wear and tear.
The more you move your knee joints, the more the joint fluid nurtures your cartilage. I recommend Pilates or Yoga to make your knee joints more flexible.
Useful Related Post: Stretching And Flexibility Tips
Video: How To Do Pilates For Strengthening Your Knees
5. Supplement Your Diet:Vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C, calcium and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones. Similarly, greens like spinach, kale and cabbage contain vitamin K, another vital nutrient that boosts bone health.
Tip: Stop smoking. The carbon monoxide from smoking dislodges 20 per cent of the oxygen from your hemoglobin. Tissues require this oxygen when trying to heal an injury.
6. Rest Your Body: Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep can do wonders to ease joint discomfort. So, sleep some early nights to make sure that you get your full 7-8 hours sleep. You will feel better for it.
7. Don’t Neglect Pain: I have seen people brushing aside knee pain when they first begin to experience it and believe it will eventually go away.
Early diagnosis is important to forestall more severe and irreversible damage. If you have a sharp, intermittent, localized pain you must go for a check-up as soon as possible so as to avert the conditions getting worse.
Tip: In case you have a knee pain and the paining area is tender to touch, take an appointment with your GP to test whether you have an unstable meniscus tear. This perhaps is the most common reason for developing osteoarthritis, if left untreated. Your doctor will check history, examine your knee for tenderness and may ask for an x-ray or MRI scan.
8. Wear Proper Shoes: To protect your knees, it is really important to wear sports shoes that provide the correct support. Well-cushioned, well-fitting athletic shoes can absorb the impact of the load exerted on the knees.
Tip: You should invest in a good pair of trainers or sport specific shoes that fit properly. Consider changing these every six months.
9. Avoid Climbing Up And Down Stairs: Unless you’re in great shape, avoid using stairs. In fact, too much use of stairs put severe stress on your kneecaps.
According to Dr. Robert Gotlin, DO, director of orthopedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City: “If you weigh 150 pounds, that can mean as much as 600 pounds going through your knees. Walk, and hold onto the railing for added support.”
Useful Related Post: Knee Arthritis – A Complete Guide
- And our last, but not the least knee-saving tips are:
(i) Don’t overdo squats and lunges.
(ii) Avoid bending your legs beyond a 90-degree angle. Make sure your knee stays directly over your foot.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.