Some aches and pains are normal as we age, but there’s no reason why we should not try to keep them to a minimum. Knee health is important in keeping you mobile as you get older, and experts agree that the best way to keep them in good shape is (ideally) to avoid receiving a knee injury. Even old injuries to the knee that may have happened when you were in your 20s can come back to haunt you in your retirement years. You may not be able to go back in time and avoid the injury, but there are some things you can do to help keep your knees from being prone to injury. Following are the top 5 ways experts recommend to keep your knees younger longer.
Wear the proper shoes for your needs – If your feet are overpronated (roll to the inside) or supinated (roll to the outside), or if you have fallen arches, it can affect your knees. You can buy orthotic inserts for your shoes to help correct the problem and take the pressure off your knees. You should also avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time, as studies have shown that wearing them leads to an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis.
Don’t overdo it on the exercise – This can be a particular problem with “weekend warriors” who feel they must fit in as much exercise as possible over the weekend because they don’t have time during the week. This can contribute to an overloading of the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the knee that are not accustomed to regular exercise, leading to an injury or even micro-tears that may not show up immediately, but which increase over time.
Lose weight – Any high-impact activities are extra hard on the knees if you are overweight. If you are overweight, running and other sports that have great impact on the knees should be avoided until you have achieved a normal weight. Practice other forms of exercise in the meantime that take the pressure off the knee, such as swimming or cycling.
Increase strength and flexibility – Concentrate on stretching and strengthening the hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) muscles, as these provide the greatest support to the knees and ensure that the patella tracks properly. Women are especially prone to improper patellar tracking, which places more stress on the ligaments of the knee. This creates a popping or grinding sound when you bend the knee, often accompanied by pain. Yoga and pilates are good ways to keep the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the leg and knee strong and flexible.
Have regular chiropractic adjustments – If your spine or hips are misaligned, the stress your knees have to bear is much greater. Sacroiliac and lumbar misalignments can make one leg shorter than the other so your gait is not straight. A study of 18 people who had knee pain due to muscle tightness showed there was a significant improvement of the condition in all subjects after having a chiropractic adjustment to the sacroiliac joint. Regular chiropractic care can help keep excessive strain off your knees and increase range of motion.