Your knees get called upon hundreds of times a day, from the moment you get up in the morning until you fall back into bed at the end of the day. Just like every other part of the body, it’s important to pay attention to the health of your knees. Bone, muscle, and cartilage are made of living tissue that can deteriorate over time and cause chronic (long-term) pain as a result of misuse, injury, or the natural aging process.
Incorporating some fairly simple lifestyle choices can keep your knees strong and help you avoid knee pain.
- Focus on your weight. One of the most important things you can do to keep your knees healthy is to maintain a healthy weight. Every extra pound of weight puts additional pressure on your knees. If you’re overweight or obese, losing just a few pounds can make a big difference in the health of your knees.
Even people who have already been diagnosed with osteoarthritis – which is the progressive wear
and tear on a joint such as the knee – can gain a great benefit from dropping a few pounds.
Weight loss is the only action that has been proven to decrease the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Exercise regularly. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the worst things for knee health. Exercise strengthens the muscles around your knees, which provides better support and stability for your joints.
Two types of exercises are particularly beneficial for knee health: aerobic activities
and strengthening exercises. Aerobic activities, such as walking, biking, or swimming, get your heart pumping and help to keep your knees healthy by reducing inflammation. Strengthening exercises, such as squats and lunges, build the muscles around the knees and help to protect the joints.
- Stretch daily. Stretching helps to increase flexibility and can prevent injuries. It’s especially important to focus on stretching the muscles and tendons around the knee.
One simple way to stretch the muscles in your knees is to sit on the floor with both legs extended
straight in front of you. Slowly bend one knee and bring your foot up toward your butt, keeping your
thigh muscle on that side relaxed. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
You can also try this standing stretch: stand with both feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Shift your weight to one leg and raise your other foot off the ground, keeping your thighs parallel. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
- Be careful when playing sports. Many knee injuries occur as a result of playing sports. The best way to avoid a knee injury is to use proper technique when playing sports and to be sure to warm up and stretch before participating. In particular, be careful with high-impact activities such as running or basketball, which can put a lot of stress on the knees. If you do participate in high-impact activities, be sure to take breaks often and to wear proper shoes.
Taking care of your knees doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Making just a few simple lifestyle changes can go a long way toward keeping your knees healthy and pain-free.
If you are experiencing knee pain or begin experiencing discomfort, give our office a call. Dr. Hicken is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee treatment. Schedule an appointment today by calling (435) 787-2000.