How to keep your knees strong
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Your knees are supposed to do only one thing: bend. But even with just that singular function, knees are among the most injured, most age-susceptible joints in your body. Your knees are sandwiched between the ground and your center of gravity. Whenever you take a step, your knees absorb some of the force placed on your legs. That force can vary, depending on whether you’re walking or running and the amount of cushion in your footwear. Multiply that force by every step you’ve ever taken over the span of years, and some degree of knee deterioration is inevitable as you age.
Let’s look at how you can help make sure your knees stay strong and flexible throughout your life.
The impact of exercise
Taking care of your knees is vital to both your mobility and your quality of life as you get older. The key to maintaining healthy knees is strengthening the muscles that support the knee, including the quadriceps, hamstring and calf. Stronger muscles help cushion your knee and promote better alignment of the bones in the joint.
There are muscle-strengthening exercises you can do in your home, such as straight leg raises while you lay on the floor. Also, wall squats, which allow you to brace your back against a wall for support, can be helpful; just remember to focus on good form and repetitions. For cardio activities, opt for low-impact exercises that take the stress off your lower joints. Choose biking or swimming as opposed to running. Those activities allow you to strengthen your muscles without the wear and tear on your joints.
Body weight also plays an important role in knee health. The more you weigh, the more stress you put on your joints. As with all fitness regimens, it’s important to pair exercise with a nutritious diet that allows you to maintain a healthy weight.
When to see a doctor
“Most knee treatments can have you back on your feet the same day, and surgery is typically a last resort.”
Knee pain or swelling that persists for weeks or that becomes intense enough to interfere with your daily activities, means it’s probably time to schedule an appointment with your physician.
If it’s a sharp pain that comes on suddenly, or an annoying pain that persists for more than a few weeks, seek medical treatment. Any mechanical symptoms, such as catching, locking or giving out, should be looked at right away.
“If you end up needing medical treatment for a knee injury, there are many options available,” said Corey Jackson, D.O., orthopedic surgeon with the Genesis Orthopedic Group. “Most knee treatments can have you back on your feet the same day, and surgery is typically a last resort.”
Treatment will always depend on the issue. Anti-inflammatories can be taken orally. Other treatments include steroid injections, viscosupplementation injections that can help to restore the lubrication between bones in the joint, and physical therapy options. That’s why it’s important to see your doctor if your problem doesn’t resolve. The sooner
you see a doctor, the sooner he or she can identify the problem and formulate a treatment plan.
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