The knee is quite an amazing joint! It’s generally regarded as the largest joint in the body, and carries quite a lot of weight and pressure, while still performing movement.
Your own set of super-joints
Did you know that, when you’re walking, your knees support 1,5 times your body weight; 3-4 times our body weight when climbing stairs and 8 times that weight when you perform a squat!? So, there’s every reason to look after them!
Some signals of possible knee problems
- pain or tenderness
- a feeling of instability or “giving way”
- redness, warmth and/or a fever
- a grinding or grating sensation
Conditions that affect knees
There are various conditions that can affect the health and mobility of your knees, no matter what age you are. Some conditions may be part of your family’s medical history, others can come down to life-style. Here are some of the more common causes of knee problems:
- various types of arthritis
- injuries (fractures, torn ligaments and menisci)
- medical conditions
- congenital conditions (problems you may have from birth)
Preventing injury and wear
There are some simple steps you can take to keep your knees in top shape – make these a habit!
- wear the right shoes for the type of activity you are performing
- avoid high heel shoes (if you must wear high heels, try to wear them for short periods of time only)
- choose well-constructed, good quality shoes made with shock-absorbing materials
- pay attention to your posture
- keep a healthy body weight (for each kg of weight you gain, you transfer 4x that amount of weight onto your knees!)
- keep your bones strong by exercising regularly
- also for bones, get enough regular calcium and Vitamin D: dark leafy greens, cheese, dairy, broccoli, green beans, raw almonds and canned fish with their bones.
- include foods that are rich in Vitamin D, like fatty fish, some dairy products, certain cereals, egg yolks, beef liver and mushrooms. Careful sunshine exposure is also an excellent source of Vitamin D
- eat oily fish or take an Omega 3 supplement to help reduce inflammation
What about exercise?
It’s very important to stay active! Reducing your level of activity because you have knee pain or stiffness can result in weak muscles, which could make your condition worse. Aim to strengthen your muscles and improve your cardiovascular health, while still being kind to your knees. Here are some activities that are gentle on knees:
- consider Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi and isometric exercises
- try water aerobics, swimming, walking and low impact cycling
- in the gym, use the elliptical machine and do some strength training
- remember to stretch and focus on quadriceps, hamstring and iliotibial band stretches
- work your adductor muscles by squeezing your knees together
Don’t do this
There are some exercises and activities that can potentially harm your knees, so, if you have knee problems, it’s wise to avoid the following:
- high impact exercises such as squats and lunges
- walking on uneven surfaces such as grass and cobble paving
- downhill running
- sports that involve sudden twisting actions, jumping, stopping and starting
Lastly, make sure you set your bicycle seat at the correct height – it’s important for your knees – and don’t charge up stairs or kneel for long periods of time. Your knees will thank you!