January 21st, 2011
06:29 PM ET
Knees help us stand, sit, walk, dance, kick a field goal and escape a predator. They bend, bounce, straighten and lift. Is it any wonder that at some point in life, knees may just wear out?
But, there are a few things you can do in order to keep your knees in the best possible working condition throughout life.
Athletes in any sport, professional or leisure, should take time to learn how to protect the knees from injury. Athletic trainers can provide assistance in learning those techniques.
Varying workouts and putting limitations on the number of hours in practice can also be helpful in protecting the knees from overuse and injury. Always be certain to take 5-10 minutes to warm up and cool down.
Wear appropriate footwear for your profession. Beware of spiked heels. Wearing spiked heels causes alignment problems, putting strain on the knees, as well as the back. Studies have shown that spiked heels put stress on the part of the knee where osteoarthritis usually develops.
Very flat soles can also present a problem with alignment. Comfortable and practical shoes do not have to be expensive. Choose carefully.
Keep your weight in check. Extra pounds put extra pressure on the knees. Every extra pound you carry can add up to three pounds of pressure to your knee joints when you walk, and even more when you run.
Exercise regularly. Choose low-impact activities you enjoy that build strength and flexibility such as yoga, walking, swimming or weight lifting. When exercise is done properly and consistently, it can help with range of motion and circulation as well as building muscle.
Practice good posture. Just like mama said –shoulders up, abs tight, head centered, knees slightly bent and don’t rest on one hip. Be aware of your posture whether standing or sitting.
Do not ignore pain. Stop the activity that is causing you discomfort and do something else. If the pain persists for a couple of weeks after you have discontinued the activity, check with your doctor.
We consider the knee to have three compartments, the medial or inner part of the joint, the lateral or outer part of the joint, and the patellofemoral or front part of the joint.
Acute pain in the medial or lateral parts of the joint should especially be reported to your physician.
Some frontal knee pain or soreness is not uncommon with new and strenuous activity. Of course if pain persists in the front of the knee, this too should be reported to your physician. Chronic pain may be a sign of plain ‘ol wear-and-tear. X-rays and other imaging will reveal the severity of the process.
Shervin Oskouei, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
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