5 Ways To Age Proof Your Knees
Since your knees absorb a huge amount of pressure with every step that you take, over time, the pressure plus daily wear and tear can take a toll on them. The muscles and ligaments get weaker, the shock absorbers of the knees (pads of cartilage called menisci) and the articular cartilage protecting the ends of the leg bones can weaken.
If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, if you’re overweight, or if you’ve had a knee injury in the past, you will be more prone to this deterioration. As the cartilage diminishes, the bones begin to rub against each other and you end up with stiffness, swelling, and pain.
However, knee pain can be managed without it having to interrupt your daily routine or activities. By employing the following strategies, you can age-proof your knees:
Boosting muscle strength stabilises the knee joint and helps the muscles to absorb stress better. Although strengthening usually includes working on the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, it shouldn’t end there. Strengthening the hip and core muscles is also essential in order to maximise the function of the knees.
Recommended exercises for knee strengthening include a variety of squats, step-ups, wall sits and brisk walking. If your knee pain is severe, it’s best to work with a physical therapist who can evaluate your requirements and customise strengthening exercises that are right for you.
If you are overweight, each additional kilogram you put on translates to another 4 kilograms(kgs) of pressure on the joints. Losing weight helps to relieve the pressure on your joints, and it also improves your overall health. Being overweight can not only increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, it may also contribute to an increase in inflammatory factors associated with the knees and other joints. Losing a few kgs can go a long way toward reducing the pressure on your knees and protecting them from daily wear and tear.
Increase Range Of Motion
“Range-of-motion" is the normal amount your joints can be moved in certain directions. Daily activities such as climbing stairs, bending and lifting do not move your joints through their full range of motion. If your joints are swollen and painful, incorporate gentle stretching exercises with the help of a physical therapist to increase the range of motion in your knees.
One simple exercise that you can follow to improve your range of motion is to sit on a bed or couch and straighten your knee. Stretch your leg out in front of you and use a pillow to support the ankle. Next, use your leg muscles to force the knee down gently with very minimal pressure.
Practise Good Posture
Good posture is a basic rule of thumb for everyone. Your body is constantly at work holding itself upright, against the force of gravity, as a result, proper posture is the key to avoiding unnecessary stress on the back, hip and knee joints.
When you’re in a chair, rest your feet flat on the floor and keep your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle.
There is no specific diet plan to ease joint pain, however, adding certain nutrients to your diet can help protect your joints. Studies show that a regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids lowers inflammation caused by prolonged knee pain. Some good sources are fish, like mackerel, sardines, and tuna, as well as green leafy vegetables like palak (spinach) and eggs.
Many people with knee pain do not get adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are important for strong bones and healthy joints. They may also help to prevent osteoporosis and other bone diseases that are caused by ageing.
Knee and joint problems can be postponed or even prevented with the right approach to diet, exercise, and posture. Only severe cases require a surgical procedure such as knee replacement.