It is natural for the cartilage of our knees to get weaker after many years of pressure from daily activities, such as walking, jumping, and running. As the cartilage wears down, bones rub against each other, causing pain, stiffness and swelling. This is why knee pain is common among the older generation, especially if there is a family history of osteoarthritis. Does this mean everybody will inevitably experience knee problems in the latter part of their life? Not quite. It is possible to delay the pain or avoid them entirely with these 5 steps.
1. Strength Training
Strengthening your muscles helps to stabilize your knee joints and allows your muscles to absorb stress better. You should not limit the exercises to just working your quadriceps and hamstring muscles as your core and hip muscles are also essential in maximizing the function of your knees.
Some recommended exercises to increase the strength of your knees are squats, step-ups, wall sit and brisk walking. However, if you experience severe knee pain, do seek help from a physical therapist to get customized exercise routines that best suit your condition.
2. Lose Weight
If you are overweight, every additional weight is equivalent to putting 4 kilograms of pressure on your knees. Additionally, excess weight also puts stress on other weight-bearing joints, namely the back and feet. Furthermore, it causes inflammation and swelling which hinders mobility.
Losing weight not only relieves the pressure on your joints but also improves your overall health. Losing weight takes time but with every kilogram you shed, your body will become healthier and your knees will thank you for it.
3. Healthy Diet
Even though increasing physical activity can help you shed weight, exercise alone is usually not enough. Having the right diet is essential. Speak to a nutritionist for help with eating right and motivating yourself to stick to the program.
Additionally, studies show that regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids lowers inflammation caused by prolonged knee pain. You can consider adding these good sources to your diet—fish, like mackerel, sardines, and tuna, and green leafy vegetables, like spinach, and eggs. Calcium and vitamin D are also important for strong bones and healthy joints. Having adequate intake can also help to prevent osteoporosis and other bone diseases that are caused by ageing.
4. Increase Range of Motion
Range of motion refers to the normal amount your joints can move in different directions. A completely straight knee will be measured 0° and a knee fully bent will have flexion of 135° degrees. Unfortunately, daily activities do not move your joints through this full range of motion.
To complete the full range of motion, your knee must be pain-free. However, if you have swollen and painful joints, do seek help from a physical therapist to do so.
5. Proper Posture
To avoid putting stress on the back, hip, and knee joints, practising proper posture is key. Get into the habit of having good posture by straightening your back when standing and sitting.
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- Harvard Health Publishing. Age-proof your knees.
- Medanta Medical Team. 5 ways to age proof your knees.
- Spectrum Orthopaedics. How Rapid Weight Gain Affects Your Joints.
- AICA Orthopedics. Importance of Range Of Motion For Chronic Knee Pain Sufferers.