Top Strategies To Age-Proof Your Knees
No matter how adamant and regimented you are with stretching and mobility exercises, knee pain is one of the first areas that becomes an issue as you age. Over time, as the knee is used in vigorous exercise or simple movements, the cartilage begins to degrade and eventually may lead to osteoarthritis and other injuries. Think of the mechanics of your knees and how it is used everyday; you will soon understand why there is so much strain on the cartilage, tissue and surrounding tendons.
What causes deterioration of the knees?
Think about the amount of steps you take every day, every week, every year. The average individual takes approximately 10,000 steps per day. Each step forces your knees to absorb, not only your bodyweight, but also the gravity associated with each step. If you do not keep care of your knees, it’s only a matter of time before you risk injury. Pain in the knees is often caused when cartilage is lost and the bones rub together leading to stiffness and swelling.
So, what can you do? Fortunately, knee pain can be prevented by maintaining or promoting certain lifestyle choices as well as ridding your everyday life of poor habits!
1. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
It is no secret that maintaining a healthy body weight has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits. From reduced risk of heart disease to higher energy levels, losing weight (if you have some to lose) can be one of the single best things you can do for yourself. Among the many benefits of maintaining a healthy weight is the relief of tension on muscles, tendons and joints. According to The Arthritis Foundation, every pound of excess weight exerts an additional 4 pounds of pressure on the knees. As an example, someone who is 10 pounds overweight will carry an additional 40 pounds of weight on their knees!
Calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) will give you a good indication whether your weight range is considered healthy. Most sources claim that a BMI of between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy. Be proactive in extending your knees’ life by maintaining a weight that is appropriate for you.
2. Work to Strengthen Muscles
Whether you are a frequent gym goer or prefer to workout in your basement, strengthening the muscles around the knees is a proven method to avoid injury and allow the knees to absorb more stress from impact in your everyday life. A comprehensive plan, aimed at strengthening the knees should focus on the hamstrings and quadriceps. Exercises like bodyweight squats and lunges are great movements to strengthen your legs. Be careful not to perform the exercises past parallel or you may risk causing more harm than good.
You may also want to perform exercises to strengthen your core, such as a plank (as shown above). Engaging and strengthening your abdominal muscles allows your spine to remain rigid and avoid injuries. When in doubt, it is always good to consult a physical therapist on a routine that is suited for your needs. In any case, strength based routines are a great way to keep your knees in tip top shape!
3. Protect your Knees
Rarely is it advised to cover up your problem. However, wearing knee compression sleeves or knee braces is one strategy to ease your way back into being active, but it is also an excellent form of preventative maintenance. The purpose of a brace is to restrict movement of the knee, especially during high contact sports and activities. By limiting the range of motion, users can reduce arthritic pain and inflammation. If you worry about the health of your knees, try sporting a knee brace in your daily routine.
Additional Tips for Knee Health
While it may be obvious to avoid activities that make osteoarthritis worse, it is often hard to know if a movement is negatively affecting your knee until you feel the onset of pain. Generally, try to avoid activities that involve standing or kneeling on hard surfaces. Kneeling for long periods of time, with knees fully bent, can irritate the meniscus of the knee. Try to avoid high impact activities like jogging on pavement and instead opt for alternatives. Jogging on a treadmill is much easier on the knees!
By making positive choices to support your knees today, such as; losing excess weight, strengthening your legs, and avoiding high impact movements, you can ensure your knees will last you a lifetime!
Who is the author?
Aaron Burns is the Owner and freelance writer for Apexhealthandcare.com. A site dedicated to informing and educating people about the right products to support their injuries. Aaron discovered his passion for health and fitness at the young age of 9, after spraining his ankle during a weekly soccer match. He was forced to wear custom orthotics (thanks, flat feet!) and ankle braces to avoid re-injuring his ankle. This childhood experience spurred his passion for writing content surrounding the themes of health, fitness and nutrition. He hopes to aid people of all ages in their endeavor of remaining happy, healthy and mobile as they grow older.
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