Knee pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints, afflicting almost 25% of the US population. But there are a number of important secrets, practiced by top trainers and professional athletes, to help protect and preserve the knees. Practicing these 5 tips can help ensure good function and high performance on your knees for years to come.
1. Quadriceps strength: Along with serving as the prime extensors of the knee joint, the quadriceps muscle group – which form the bulk of the front of the thigh – are at the same time vital for the stability and health of the joint. Even if you are not placing great demands on the knee through running, dancing, or jumping, it is important that the quadriceps remain strong. Otherwise, damage to the knee joint may occur.
2. Flexibility: If your knee muscles are very inflexible or you are new to exercise, start off with basic knee stretches. You should never feel knee pain in any stretch. If you feel pain in your joint, it’s time to stop and seek advice from your doctor.
3. Cross-training: As with all muscular training, it is crucial to perform a variety of motions that involve the knee joint. A mix of exercise activities – walking, running, biking, tennis, dance, etc. – that create different types of stresses on the knee ensures that different muscle groups are engaged.
4. Low impact exercise: High impact sports and exercise – boot camp classes, step aerobics –expose the knee to significant stress, so emphasize low impact activities like cycling and swimming to protect your knees from long term damage.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight raises your risk for developing knee injuries, especially osteoarthritis. Excess weight puts additional stress on weight bearing joints, particularly the knee. Losing a few pounds can go a long way toward protecting your knees by reducing the pressure on them. The force on your knee is two to three times your body weight when you go up and down stairs, and four to five times your body weight when you squat to tie a shoelace or pick up an item you dropped. Each extra pound adds to that load!
If you’d like to review your exercise program, or want individualized tips to help optimize your knee health, give us a call at Manhattan Orthopedics to make an appointment.