Get a little bit older or put on some extra pounds and you’ll realize that knee problems can quickly take over your life. What often starts out as small twinges here or there, will turn into everyday pain if not properly managed. Simple movements like going up and down stairs, in and out of your car, and walking and bending, can become painful challenges with constant reminders. Daily routines get altered and physical activities are abandoned. If you fit into this category, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all adults age 85 will develop osteoarthritis or weak knees resulting in pain. Two-thirds of obese adults will do the same. While this statistic reflects the rise is knee replacement surgery over the years, you can beat the odds with exercise,
Squatting is an excellent exercise designed to build the muscles around the knee joints. When the muscles surrounding the knee are strengthened through exercise, pressure and pain on the knee are relieved. Joints like your knee, don’t have to work as hard when you have strong muscles. Squats are the best exercise to for weak knees.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your arms straight in front of you, parallel to the floor and palms facedown. Keep your back straight and begin to bend your knees as if to sit in a chair. The whole time, your knees should remain above your feet so you can still see your toes. Raise back up to standing. Repeat.
Lunges, if done correctly are great exercise as well. Take a step forward with your left leg and lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the ground. Your left knee and left hip should make a 90-degree angle. Stand back up straight and then take a step with your right leg and lower your body toward the ground. Keep walking forward, lunging as you go. If this is difficult to do, start out going down half way and work your way lower in time. Be mindful to engage the core to assist.
This exercise can be done sitting in a chair. It strengthens your quadriceps muscles, the large muscle on the front of your thigh. Sitting in a chair, keep one foot on the floor and lift the other up until your leg is straight in front of you. Squeeze your leg for five seconds then lower it back down. Repeat.
Leg curls can be done at home or at the gym on a machine. It’s a great exercise to work your hamstring, the muscle on the back of your thigh. To do this exercise at home, stand and hold onto the back of a chair. Lift your left heel up toward your bottom, squeeze for five seconds then lower back to the floor. Then lift your right heel. Repeat. You can also do this movement while lying on your stomach. Lift one heel at a time, or both at the same time. Leg Curl machines allow you to add resistance and can be found in every gym.
Exercise can be the last thing on the minds of those who live with constant knee pain but it can be incredibly effective. Always speak with your physician and discuss your goals with them.
Weight loss through proper eating can be incredibly effective at reducing knee pain. Every pound you gain adds four pounds of pressure on the knees. Losing five to ten pounds will make a huge impact.
Have a fitness question? Send your questions to [email protected] You can follow Marcia on twitter @mraakbar and Instagram @mraakbar