How To Protect Your Knees from Pain and Injury

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knee painAs you age, you are likely to experience knee pain. Knee pain is often caused by osteoarthritis, which is the wearing aware of knee cartilage. Once that cartilage is gone, the bones rub against each other causing pain, stiffness and swelling. You may find it harder to get around and maintain your same level of mobility.

Knee pain is common but not always inevitable. There are many things you can do to reduce wear and tear on your knees and the pain that usually precipitates knee replacement surgery.

The following tips are from

Stay slim

-Staying slim reduces the forces placed on the knee during both athletics and everyday walking and, according to some medical research, may reduce osteoarthritis.

-Keeping your weight down may also reduce the number of ligament and tendon injuries for similar reasons.

Keep limber, keep fit

-Many knee problems are due to tight or imbalanced musculature. Stretching and strengthening, therefore, also help to prevent knee pain.

-Stretching keeps your knee from being too tight and aids in preventing both patellofemoral syndrome and iliotibial band syndrome.

-Strengthening exercises particularly of the quadriceps.

Exercise wisely

-If you have chronic knee pain, consider swimming or water exercises.

-In water, the force of buoyancy supports some of our weight so our knees do not have to.

-If you don’t have access to a pool or do not enjoy water activities, at least try to limit hard pounding and twisting activities such as basketball, tennis, or jogging.

-You may find that your aching knees will act up if you play basketball or tennis every day but will not if you limit your pounding sports to twice a week.

-Whatever you do, respect and listen to your body. If it hurts, change what you are doing.

-If you are fatigued, consider stopping; many injuries occur when people are tired.

Here are some additional anti-aging defenses for the knees from Harvard Medical School’s HealthBEAT:

Increase range of motion. “Most people’s joints get stiffer with age, and there’s clear evidence that people with better motion have fewer symptoms, especially if they can straighten the knee. So it’s important to work on getting the knee straight,” says Dr. Lars Richardson, an orthopedic surgeon with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. He recommends working with a physical therapist to improve range of motion. For an exercise to try at home, he suggests sitting on a bed or floor, putting a pillow under the ankle, and using your leg muscles to force the knee down gently.

In addition he says some activities can make osteoarthritis symptoms worse, such as standing on a hard surface or squatting for a long period (while gardening, for example). He recommends wearing cushioned shoes or gel inserts if you have a job or hobby that involves standing on hard surfaces, and use a low stool to sit on while gardening.

Avoid high-impact activities such as jogging and aerobics classes that involve jumping. Go for non-impact exercises, such as indoor or outdoor cycling or using an elliptical trainer, he adds.