“To have any doubt in your body is the biggest weakness an athlete can have.” – Shawn Johnson
The knee is the largest joint in the body – and because you use it so much (to sit, stand, walk, jump, and run) – it’s incredibly susceptible to injury. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, approximately 19 million visits are made to doctors’ offices each year for knee problems.
Indeed, my husband contributed to these numbers this year, and is spending this week recuperating from surgery to repair a “crinkled” meniscus – his third arthroscopic procedure over the years.
Knee injury can strike anyone -- healthy active individuals (like my husband) as well as couch potatoes, and so: Injury prevention is not a “one size fits all” approach. To keep your knees happy and healthy, here are five preventative measures recommended by knee experts:
Weigh well: Maintain your proper weight for your size and age. Every extra pound you gain puts extra pressure (up to 4 extra pounds) on your knees when performing simple daily activities like walking or climbing the stairs. Moreover, extra weight increases your chances of developing osteoarthritis, setting you up for ongoing issues.
Fashion last: Wear sensible shoes that maintain proper alignment and balance when walking and standing. Exercisers should choose footwear specific (cushioning, stability, arch support, and flexibility) to their sport and individual gait.
Surface matters: Hard surfaces (pavement or asphalt) do not allow for shock absorption and are hard on the knee joints. While grass or dirt paths may be a better option for shock absorption, be sure they are even. Uneven paths and cobblestone streets are especially risky for unstable knees because of tripping and potential strain. Treadmills, though boring, are a good surface choice because of absorption and consistency.
Stay low: Low impact activities may be best for those with chronic knee issues. At the gym, choose the rowing, cross-country ski, or elliptical machines. If you are a cycler, make sure your seat is adjusted to offer full leg extension. Recumbent bikes are a particularly smart exercise choice, because the reclining seat angle puts less stress on knees. Finally, if you have access to a pool, try water running – the water’s buoyancy takes a load off the knees and the water’s resistance provides a workout.
Move smart: When walking up and down stairs, use the handrails for support. Don’t overdo or under
The doc reports that my husband’s recent issues were most likely caused by aging ligaments combined with some excess joint pressure from running. While my husband hopes his running days are not over, the recurring knee pain (and subsequent surgeries) seems to have been motivation enough for him to rethink his long-term exercise strategies. Before his surgery, I spied him tuning up his bike . . .
How about you, realbuzz friends? How are your knees holding out?
Until next week,
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