Preventing Knee Pain
Professional athletes are not the only ones plagued with knee injury and pain. Millions of people experience knee injuries while competing in sports, at work or participating in other daily activities every year. Millions more fall victim to knee diseases and seek relief from chronic joint pain. Although knee pain is common, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury and disease, manage your pain and treat your knee injuries to promote healing.
Whether you have never experienced knee pain, you have recovered from an injury or you are dealing with chronic knee disease, there are steps you can take to prevent injury and minimize your pain. Maintaining a healthy weight, performing appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises and using protective and supportive equipment can protect your knees. With your physician's approval, it is important to stay active to keep your knee joints healthy and functioning.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
By maintaining a healthy weight, you are decreasing the burden on your knee joints. Less strain on your knees decreases the risk of injury and degenerative diseases. The Mayo clinic states that if your Body Mass Index (BMI); that is, the ratio between your height and weight, is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight. To measure your BMI, click here.
If you find that your BMI is above the healthy range there are simple steps you can take to get you to that healthy range. Making nutritional food choices and becoming more active will result in safe weight loss. For more info on how to get started, click here.
When considering how to become more active, remember choosing an activity appropriate for your knee pain is important to ensure you can participate and to prevent further damage. For instance, consider swimming or other low-impact activities over running and volleyball. If your pain allows you to participate in higher-impact activities, do not overdo it. Let your body be your guide and if you experience pain take a break or decrease your level of intensity.
Strengthening and Stretching Exercises
Knee injuries often occur because there is not sufficient muscle support around the joint. By strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings your balance and stability increases and chance of injury decreases. Just a few minutes of leg strengthening exercises, 3 times per week will help prevent injury. Ask your physician, the trainer at your gym or your coach for exercises recommended for your specific injury. Don't forget to warm up your muscles before beginning any strengthening exercises with 5 minutes of walking or other low-impact aerobic exercise. For general strengthening exercise suggestions, click here.
Stretching is often considering an add-on when exercising, however, muscle flexibility also prevents injury. When ligaments and muscles are flexible they are less likely to be twisted, pulled or torn. Include stretching exercises in your program after your strengthening routine to prevent tightness in your muscles and decrease your risk of damage. Be sure to stretch slowly and do not overstretch the muscle. For stretching exercise suggestions, click here.
Use the Proper Equipment and Protective Gear
Spending some time and money to properly prepare yourself for activities will help to keep you from pain and injury. By using protective gear and equipment appropriate for work or play, you will be able to minimize knee damage.
Knee pads shield you from trauma during sports such as volleyball and in-line skating and provide protection and comfort to those with jobs that require excessive amounts of kneeling like plumbing, tiling and landscaping.
Knee guards and shin guards also provide protection from trauma, especially during sports with frequent blows to the knee such as hockey and basketball.
Wearing a knee brace in situations where jumping, twisting or heavy lifting is required will provide support to the ligaments, muscles and cartilage and help to prevent hyperextension of the knee joint.
Choosing the proper shoe for your activity can ensure you are receiving support and flexibility where you need it. Although athletic shoes may look similar they are designed with the sport in mind. Court shoes are built for quick turns and stops, however, running shoes provide more cushioning and arch support to protect feet and knees from pounding steps.