We stride in pride to carry all the responsibilities on our shoulders, but it takes one sore knee to bring it all down. Somewhere between late 30’s & early 40’s a large population of active people will begin to notice knee pain. One might feel crackling sound(crepitus), buckling, or slight discomfort while climbing upstairs, all early indicators of early arthritis. We put an enormous amount of mechanical stress on our knees on daily basis, though knees are typically designed to take it. However, certain bad habits could shorten the life of your knees & invite the chronic pain & disability. 

Take out some time to evaluate your knee health, your basic choices e.g. your stance, shoes, overall health & fitness. Too many people wait until the knee pain has gotten out of tolerance limits. Many people think surgery is the only option; majority of surgeries can be avoided by simple lifestyle modifications. Ask yourself 5 common questions & find out about your knee health & ways to keep them healthy.

1. How much do you weigh?

The knees bear three times a person’s body weight going upstairs, five times the weight going down stairs & 20 times the body weight while running. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis as it aggravates the cartilage breakdown. A recent study states that even a 10 pound weight loss in obese people can make drastic difference in overall knee health. Thus dropping that extra fat may be the single most important thing you can do to maintain knee health.

2. Are you wearing the apt shoes?

Shoes can cause your body weight to be unevenly distributed, thereby predisposing knee to extra stress. Chronic use of high heels may lead to foot ache, low back ache, ankle sprain; foot deformities e.g. hammer toe, etc. Pick the right stilettos i.e. an inch &half or less, wide heel base, broad toes support. Wear soft insoles to reduce the impact of heels. Wear heels on those days that require limited standing or walking. Add at least one pair of shoes in your collection, which is a shoe or a sneaker that are specially designed for supporting arches & contours of foot.

3. Are you maintaining good posture?

Just as driving a car whose wheels are out of alignment causes tyres to wear out, similarly if your body isn’t properly aligned, the muscles, ligaments & joints, wear out due to undue stress. A physical therapist may help you assess your body bio mechanics & train you proper sitting, walking, lifting techniques & work ergonomics. It will help spare your joints from extra wearing stress.Meanwhile, you may follow few general guidelines;

  • Keep you back straight. Don’t slump forward at the shoulders or upper back.
  • Don’t lock your knees, keep them slightly bent.
  • Gently suck in your stomach to tighten up your abdominal.
  • Prefer standing on both legs, thereby equally distributing the body weight.
  • Keep your head centred over your body

4. What is your exercise regime?

As food is for the stomach, so is exercise for the muscles. Feed the muscles on regular basis with exercise & they provide you with fit body. Muscle weakness predisposes bones, joints & ligaments to misalignment & injury. A daily regime of low impact exercise may help in building stamina, strength & flexibility, such as yoga,cycling, swimming, weight training, etc. These exercises improve circulation,range of motion & muscle strength. Stretching & strengthening of hamstrings, hip flexors & quadriceps, particularly the Vastus Medialis Oblique, should be done at least 3 times a week.

5. Are you over using your knees?

Staying active is good but not at the cost of abusing your knees. Don’t engage in activities that cause repetitive strain on muscles & joints, causing damage to cartilage & musculus-tendinous injuries, thereby predisposing to arthritis. When you feel discomfort during or after exercise, household chores or any other activity,don’t ignore it. Cease the activity immediately until you may perform it without pain. Meanwhile, you may continue with other activities that do not stress the affected joint. If still pain persists, see the orthopedic. To avoid overuse injuries, take out 5 minutes for warming up before you indulge inactivity & another 5minutes for cooling down afterward. As you age avoid activities that require frequent pivots, sudden start & stop e.g. soccer& basketball.

A stitch in time saves nine. Start taking care of your knees. You may not require to run a half marathon, yet you may be able to ride your body for years with comfort.