Knee pain and injury can restrict movement and make it difficult to be active, but studies show that the right type of exercise can help prevent these issues.
It’s no wonder our knees are highly prone to injury. They house a complex network of muscles, ligaments and joints, and are crucial to our agility and daily movements.
If you are experiencing knee pain, it’s important to not ignore this message from your body. While it’s fairly common to have occasional aches, if the pain limits your ability to perform normal daily activities like climbing stairs or walking with ease, have a medical professional check it out.
“The take-home message here is to listen to your body,” says Amanda Henriques, PT, DPT at Renown Physical Therapy. “We are all built differently and respond to exercise in different and unique ways. Running may feel great for one person, but always lead to injury for another.”
At any age, it’s important to protect and strengthen your knees to help prevent pain and injury. Here are five tips from our experts:
- Strengthen your muscles. Choose exercises that focuses on the muscles around your kneecaps, hips and pelvis and places extra emphasis on your core. These muscles will absorb some of the stress places on your knees, helping them stay balanced and stable.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Each pound of body weight produces five pounds of force on the knee. If you need to shed weight, start with low-impact activities to avoid increased stress to your joints.
- Pick the right exercise. Opt for exercise that put less stress on your knees, such as cycling, walking or swimming. Choose flat surfaces when walking for exercise and avoid activities that put extra stress on your knees, such as deep knee bends or downhill running.
- Warm up before working out. Don’t overdo the workouts in length or intensity, and stretch after exercise to help prevent injury.
- Avoid high heels. Wear shoes with good arch support specific to your choice of exercise that provide a stable base for your feet and legs. Replace running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Other athletic shoes should be replaced after 500 miles of wear.
These tips can help keep your knees strong and prevent injury. But if you experience an accident or trauma, seek medical attention and follow up with any rehabilitation recommendations you receive. Depending on the injury, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, where you will be guided through individualized exercises to strengthen and heal.
“If you listen to your body and take the appropriate preventative measures, you can find the right type of exercise to keep you happy, healthy and fit for life,” Henriques says.