5 Ways to Protect Your Knees
In 2008, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine reported that emergency departments in the United States saw over 6.6 million knee injuries between 1999 and 2008. The knee continues to be the most commonly injured joint in young and older adults. This information isn’t all that surprising when you consider the stress placed on our knees day every day. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help protect your knees.
The following are five ways to protect your knees. These simple suggestions can help you lower the risk of injury and keep your knees healthier as you age.
Keep Your Weight Down
Maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in protecting your knees. One pound places the equivalent of four to six pounds of pressure on your knees, showing you just how important a healthy weight for your frame can be. Not convinced? The Arthritis Society has reported that a significant proportion of those who have knee replacement surgery are overweight. If you’re carrying extra weight, speak to your doctor about healthy ways to manage your weight.
Many people are under the impression that exercise will damage their knees and aggravate any existing knee pain. The truth is that the right exercise can improve strength and flexibility to help prevent further injury. And, if exercising is the last thing you want to do because of joint pain, exercise can also reduce stiffness for less pain. The key is to choose exercises that are low impact, such as strengthening and stretching exercises. These can help improve your range of motion and make the muscles around the knees stronger to help absorb the shock placed on knees when you move for less pressure on the joint. If you need to lose weight, you can also add low-impact aerobic activity to help shed pounds without injuring the knees.
Eat for Better Joint Health
You may not think that what you eat can impact your knee health, but studies have found that certain foods can improve joint health and reduce inflammation. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids have been found to lower inflammation and stop the production of enzymes that can break down cartilage. Fatty fish, such as sardines, salmon and cod are high in omega-3. These foods are also excellent sources of vitamin D and other nutrients that has been associated with healthier joints and better health overall.
Get Some Sun
While too much sun increases the risk of skin cancer, getting just 5 to 15 minutes at a time of direct sunlight, at least three times a week can provide the vitamin D you need for better mental and physical health, including stronger knees. A 2008 study found that sunlight exposure and increased vitamin D levels decreased knee cartilage loss and that getting sufficient vitamin D can prevent or slow cartilage loss in those with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Watch That Gait
Your posture and gait have a lot to do with the state of your knees. Having knee pain can alter the way you walk, making things worse, as can bad habits when it comes to your standing and walking. Orthotics and the right shoes for walking and running may help improve your gait, while also helping to absorb some of the impact on your knees when you move. Having your gait analyzed by a physical therapist and practicing better posture when standing and walking may also help.
Aqua therapy, also known as pool or water therapy, provides the ideal environment to exercise while protecting your knees. The buoyancy of the water supports your body’s weight, reducing the stress on your joints while you strengthen your muscles. Taking a dip in a pool with warmer water can also benefit your joints by soothing pain.
If your knee pain is disrupting your active life, speak to us about your options. At ARO, our skilled, highly-educated orthopedic surgeons and physicians believe in the least invasive procedures possible to put you in control of tomorrow’s motion.