Let’s face it—if you’re leading an active lifestyle, some wear and tear on your knees is inevitable. Still, there are some things you can do to be proactive so you have a better chance of having healthy, pain-free knees for the long-term.
For starters, stop taking your knees for granted. You probably bend, squat, kneel, walk, run, and much more throughout your day. None of that would be possible without your knees.
If you want to prevent injuries and joint deterioration, take some steps to take care of your knees:
- Healthy Weight: Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts extra strain on the knee joint. Think about it this way—when you walk, each step creates a force on the knee joint that is equivalent to three times your body weight. When you run, each step applies five times your body weight to the knee. Do you want that much extra force on your knee joint? Drop the pounds and reduce the load on that joint.
- Build Strength: Strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint. The quadriceps and hamstring muscles support the knees. If these muscles are weak, the chance of injury is higher.
- Improve Flexibility: Tight muscles can lead to injury. Be sure to adhere to a regular stretching routine to maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
- Variety: Variety is important for a lot of reasons, including protecting the knees. Be sure to alternate between high-impact and low-impact activity. Instead of all running, all the time, switch it up. Incorporate some walking, swimming, and cycling into your routine to give your knees a break.
- Core Strength: When core muscles are weak, the body doesn’t move as efficiently. Maintain a strong core to reduce the risk of injury.
- Proper Footwear: Wear shoes that provide a stable base to prevent abnormal stress on the knee. Sometimes orthotics are necessary to create proper alignment.
The bottom line: take care of your knees if you want them to take care of you for the long-term.