You’ve read all over about a healthy heart, a sharp mind, and strong bones, but now you need fit knees? If you are approaching the age of 50, or if you have had a knee injury or chronic knee pain, then yes, you need to focus on having a fit knee.
A fit knee depends on a variety of factors. Most importantly, the knee joint requires the support and protection of surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These tend to weaken as we age. This inevitable process can only be slowed down by a resistance-strengthening program. Walking doesn’t accomplish this, neither does leading a busy lifestyle. Those are both healthy ways to live, however, leg strength only comes with resistance exercises. Two of the safest and easiest resistance exercises to do at home are a partial wall sit rotated with a one-legged flamingo stance. Do both successively, between three to five times, along with any other leg strengthening you may already be doing. Be careful that you are not doing any leg exercise that causes pain.
Secondly, a fit knee doesn’t like to carry extra weight. One pound of extra body weight puts four pounds of extra pressure on your knee. If you already have knee pain, walking or impact exercises are not a good idea. Better options for weight control if your knees are painful include strict eating habits and low-impact calorie burning exercises such as seated zumba, biking, swimming, etc.
The third way toward fit knees is to avoid damaging them, especially if you have a family history of “bad knees”. Protect your knees with well-padded shoes such as jogging shoes for every day use. There are well-padded dress shoes also. Put an extra heel pad in your shoe as the impact of walking occurs with initial heal strike. Wear kneepads or kneel on padding such as a folded towel when working on your knees. Avoid damage to your knee. Mix biking in to your running routine. Limit high impact sports such as basketball. Walk the dog on a soft surface instead of a sidewalk.
Lastly, protect your knees and other joints by limiting the amount of inflammation in your body. Current research has shown the association between inflammatory foods and inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is at the root of most all causes of knee pain. Any condition ending in –“itis” implies inflammation. Arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis can be better controlled if you have less inflammation in your body. In addition to avoiding inflammatory foods and eating more anti-inflammatory food, controlling stress can also help reduce inflammation. There are specific nutrients, such as curcumin, quercetin, cinnamon, and resverathrol that can specifically help control inflammation. Learn how to get those healthy nutrients in your foods.
Having fit knees can make life more enjoyable by allowing you to stay active longer. There is nothing worse than not being able to shoot basketball with your grandson or being kept awake at night with knee pain. Start now on getting your fit knees! You might avoid knee pain and surgery later in life.
Dr. Joseph Blanda, MD