In a popular commencement essay, columnist Mary Schmich bestowed a solid piece of counsel on the graduating crowd: “Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.” If only we all heeded that advice!
Composed of four bones, five ligaments, two major tendons, and an intricate web of soft tissues like cartilage, joint fluid, bursae, and muscle, the knee is the most complex joint in the body, being especially prone to injury without proper care. The resulting knee pain can be debilitating, causing sleepless nights, missed work, and even preventing an active, fulfilling lifestyle. How can you save your knees?
Follow the 10% Rule
If you want to increase your activity level while also trying to avoid knee pain, it’s important to use the 10% Rule. If you typically walk 2 miles per day, making the moderate increase of 10% of that instead of suddenly doubling or tripling your distance will keep your joints safe. Slowly building up your endurance and strength will ensure that you meet your training goals without adding injury to developing muscles and sensitive joints.
Balance Your Fitness
A great way to find knee pain relief is to develop a balanced fitness program that will incorporate flexibility, cardiovascular exercise and strength training. It’s said that variety is a virtue when it comes to physical fitness, and in addition to providing a complete physical workout, changing up your exercise routines will strengthen a wide range of muscles, keep you from getting bored, and reduce overuse injury risk.
Every pound of body weight exerts an extra 4 pounds of force on the knee joint, and more weight can equal more knee pain. Over 61 million people experience it annually, and since over 70% of Americans are overweight, it’s not hard to see why. The John’s Hopkins Arthritis Center reported on a study that found that for overweight women, losing just 11 pounds reduces the risk of knee OA by more than 50%, and for men, the numbers were still impressive at 21.5%. Finding knee pain relief through weight loss is an easy fix to a potentially big problem.
Resting and Rehabbing
If you’re one of the 10.4 million Americans that, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, has sustained an injury this last year, following orders for resting and recuperation will be crucial to your recovery. Depending on the type of injury, your treatments may last a couple of weeks to several months, and overworking a compromised knee joint could delay healing, or cause re-injury or new damage that could result in permanent disability.
Use the “RICE method”
Use Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation when the pain gets bad. Cut back on your activity, apply a cold pack, wear an elastic bandage and prop up your knee when sitting. Do be careful, however, not to apply ice for too long or you may give yourself frostbite. If your leg starts to swell or your knee starts to throb from the compression wrap, loosen it.
Tips for knee-friendly grocery shopping
What is the best way to approach the shopping process itself? Here are recommendations from NYC personal trainer John Annillo:
- Go grocery shopping right after exercising so that you are in the right mindset.
- Don’t go grocery shopping hungry so that you aren’t in the wrong mindset.
- Bring a shopping list with you to avoid impulse buys.
- Try using a basket rather than a cart, so that your purchases are focused.
- Time yourself so that you don’t get distracted and drawn into tantalizing displays.
Don’t Stop Moving
While you don’t want to try to “power through” if you’re experiencing severe knee pain, you also don’t want to stop moving altogether. Check with your doctor to find out which exercises are safe to do if your knees are hurting a lot or healing from an injury.
Need a Path to Pain-Free Knees?
If you are experiencing knee pain that prevents you from participating in your regular, daily activities, then we urge you to contact the team at Flexogenix to learn more about how our advanced imaging technology helps provide an accurate diagnosis, and how our effective and innovative Knee-Flex 5-Step Program will get you on the road to recovery.