What you can do to keep knee pain from slowing you down.
Just like any other part of the body, it’s easy to take the health of your knees for granted. If they’re not causing you pain or discomfort, you may not think twice about their condition. But ignoring the largest joint in your body can be a painful mistake.
Complex structures made of bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscle, your knees are at risk for an array of health issues. From overuse, aging, and disease to injury during sports, work projects, or even an accident around the house, knee problems are like the common cold: you’ll probably experience at least one at some point in your life.
Hence why you should learn to protect your knees from harm.
Too Much Demand
Any repetitive activity or prolonged pressure placed on the knee can lead to injury. This could include activities such as running, jumping, climbing stairs, cycling, or kneeling for long periods while working. The stress of these activities on the knee joint can result in inflammation and irritation.
– Abraham Lincoln
Examples of overuse injuries include the following:
- tendonitis (inflammation of tendons)
- tendinosis (tears in tendons)
- bursitis (inflammation of the cushioning in the knee)
- plica syndrome (thickening of ligaments)
- patellofemoral pain syndrome (pain on the front of the knee from excess weight, injury, overuse, or other problems.
- iliotibial band syndrome (inflammation and irritation of fibrous tissue on outer thigh)
What steps can you take to help prevent overuse injuries? Try to avoid repetitive activities that place excessive stress on your knees such as running downhill, running up and down stairs, and performing too many squats. If you must be down on your knees for long periods due to work or hobbies, take frequent breaks or wear kneepads.
To keep your knee joints and muscles flexible, be sure to warm up and stretch before and after exercising. Pay special attention to your hamstrings, inner thighs, and calves. Avoid wearing high heel shoes, but wear shoes with good arch support and cushioning.
The best way to keep your knees in good shape is to be in shape yourself. Keep your weight at a healthy level to avoid excess stress on your knees. Knee pain will often improve greatly or even disappear when you drop extra pounds.
Knee problems are most commonly caused by sudden acute injuries caused by a direct blow, landing on the knee during a fall, or abnormal bending or twisting. When this occurs, pain develops quickly and nerves may be damaged.
Types of acute knee injuries include the following:
- meniscus (tear in the joint cushions)
- strains or sprains to the tendons and ligaments
- tear in the ligaments, often the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or the medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- fracture of the kneecap or the bones surrounding the knee (femur, tibia, or fibula)
- dislocation of the kneecap (a frequent injury for 13–18-year-old females)
- dislocation of the knee joint (a serious but rare injury caused by great force on the knee)
How can you prevent sudden knee injuries? While participating in sports such as roller skating, soccer, tennis, or basketball, wear knee guards, and always wear the right footwear for the activity you’re doing and the surface you’re on. Additionally, learn and practice the correct positions and techniques to prevent undue muscle strain.
Knee injuries are also common during auto accidents, but wearing your seatbelt can minimize damage. You should also avoid standing on unsteady chairs, ladders, or stepstools, and you shouldn’t carry things too heavy for you.
Aging, Disease, Infection
Besides overuse and injury, knee problems frequently arise from normal aging, certain diseases, and infection. Conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and gout; infections in the skin, joint, bone, or cushioning of the knee; a pinched nerve elsewhere in the body; and other conditions can bring on knee pain.
To keep your knees in tip-top shape for as long as possible, eat a nutritious diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, exercise regularly with a healthy dose of weight-bearing exercise, only drink alcohol in moderation, don’t smoke, and work hard to keep other health conditions under control.
If you live in the Gilbert area, treat yourself right by calling or emailing today to get started on an exercise program that will change your life for the best.
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