Your knees bear a lot of weight and stress. As you walk around, the force of your body weight is multiplied several times over at the knee joint. Every pound of extra weight puts an extra 3 pounds of pressure on your knees.
The cartilage in your knees serves as a shock absorber, protecting the bone from the impact of walking and running. But with hundreds of pounds of force pressing down on them every day, it’s no wonder that our knees can start to wear down as we age.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect your knees and keep them healthy.
Lose Some Weight
If you’re carrying around extra weight, losing a few pounds can make a huge difference for your knees. A 10-pound weight loss can relieve 30 to 40 pounds of pressure off your knees.
Additionally, shedding unhealthy weight can reduce inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation contributes to cartilage and joint tissue breakdown—the characteristic sign of osteoarthritis.
However, suppose you are already at a healthy weight or underweight. In that case, further weight loss is generally not recommended as it can weaken your bones and muscles, making them more susceptible to injuries.
Your knee joint is made of an intricate complex of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These all work together to stabilize your knee and allow it to move properly.
If any of these components is weak, it can put extra stress on the others and lead to instability, pain, and injuries.
Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and cycling are all great ways to build up the muscles around your knee joint and improve your overall fitness. Strength training, resistance exercises, and balance exercises are also excellent for knee health.
Wear the Right Shoes
The shoes you wear can have a big impact on your knees.
High heels change how you walk, putting extra strain on your knees and lower back. Wearing too big or too small shoes can also lead to joint pain and other problems.
It’s important to find shoes that fit well and match the type of activities you are doing. They should offer good support and have plenty of cushioning to absorb the impact of your steps.
Don’t Ignore Pain
Rest, ice and elevation can all help to reduce swelling and pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can also be helpful.
If the pain doesn’t go away after a few days or gets worse instead of better, it’s time to see a doctor. You may have a more serious injury that requires treatment.
The key to good knee health is staying active. Your body generally works on a “use it or lose it” principle, meaning that if your daily routine doesn’t involve much movement and activity, your muscles and joints will weaken over time.
On the other hand, if you keep your body active and moving, it will stay strong and healthy. Regular exercise helps to maintain the integrity of your muscles and bones, improve your balance and coordination, and reduce stiffness.
Even an easy walk around your neighborhood daily can significantly improve your chances of keeping your knees strong and healthy.