Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering from aching or painful knees? You are not alone. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 1 in 2 people may develop painful knee osteoarthritis by age 85. In addition, if you struggle with weight, research shows that 2 in 3 people may develop painful knee arthritis in their lifetime.
The knee is an incredible joint, having to sustain 6 times your body weight in force, while moving through a large range of motion. The knee joint is inherently unstable, held together by a mass of ligaments, tendons and muscles. The knee also takes a beating during your lifetime. It is estimated that you will walk an estimated 200 million steps, therefore it is easy to see why your knees sustain a lot of wear and tear over the years.
How to Keep Your Knees Healthy
There are a variety of factors that can cause knee pain, but it is important to focus on preventing knee pain from occurring and what can be done to keep your knees healthy.
Here are useful tips to keep your knees working in tiptop condition:
- Move – Getting up from a sitting position and put weight on your legs. It may be as simple as walking around the room, walk around your house, or go for a long walk around the neighborhood. Either way, the more you sit the less the knee has to work and the good ‘ole phrase… “If you don’t use it, you lose it” will affect your knees.
- Stretch daily –Daily stretching maintains good flexibility in your muscles, tendons and ligaments around the knee. This allows the knee to continue with its normal mobility specifically bending and straightening.
- Strengthen your legs – Since the knee is a very functional joint, it requires good muscle support and strength. This provides the stability needed to squat, walk and do stairs. Studies show that strengthening the quadriceps muscle is very important in preventing knee pain and knee osteoarthritis.*
- Get a tune up from your physical therapist – Your knee needs to move forward and backwards with some twisting motion. Our physical therapists are medical experts in evaluating these special types of motions called accessory movements. By evaluating and treating your knee on a regular basis, our physical therapists can keep your knees moving as they should.
- Use ice or heat – Typically, ice is used after a flare-up of inflammation, injury or pain. If the pain is new, try ice. Heat is used more for chronic swelling in the knee with the purpose of increasing circulation. If you have had it for a few weeks, months, years… try heat.
- Watch your weight – The more weight you carry, the more pressure goes on the knee. When squatting down you can increase the pressure on your knee by 3 times. Over time, and it doesn’t take that long (a few months) the knees start to wear down just like anything else with more weight than normal. Therefore, the closer to your ideal weight, the happier your knees can be.
The most important part in preventing knee pain is keeping your legs flexible and strong. If you are concerned about how your knees feel when you try to walk, bend and run, then give Hess Physical Therapy a call today. Our experts have years of experience evaluating the proper mechanics of the knee and restoring them, for a pain-free future.