If our body parts were restaurants, your knees would be that run-down, seedy joint. Often the first things to give out, knees have an innate and annoying ability to remind you that you’re growing old. Many people have knees that ache, crack, lockup, or generally cause a sense of discomfort.
Bad knees have long been a dagger to the professional athlete: when the knees go, often so does the career. But, you don’t need to be an athlete or even a habitual exerciser for this kind of thing to compromise your quality of life. Bad knees can make something as simple as grocery shopping or walking up stairs feel like torture.
The Epidemic of Knee Problems
Knee problems are one of the most frequent reasons people visit their doctors. While they are more common in certain demographics, such as the elderly or runners, they can happen to anyone.
According to Everyday Health, there are three main reasons for knee pain: osteoarthritis, obesity, and muscle changes. Osteoarthritis affects about 14 percent of the over-24 population; after the age of 65, it affects around 34 percent. Obesity, as most of us know, is very common in America, affecting roughly one in three people. Muscle changes affect us all, particularly during the decades between age 20 and 60. In this time frame, muscles may shrink by as much as 40 percent.
Why the Knee is so Frail
Knee problems are so common, at least in part, because of the knee’s innate fragility. According to the Medical Multimedia Group, this is a result of the knee bearing the body’s weight and the complicated coordination it undergoes to keep the tibia, the femur, and the patella (the knee cap) working together. In order for a person to walk fluidly, this coordination must occur with each step.
What You Can Do to Avoid Injury
Some knee pain and injury is unavoidable, but the incidence can be dramatically reduced by taking precautions and changing your lifestyle. According to Web MD, there are six main ways to accomplish this.
First of all, you should never ignore knee pain. Pain of any kind is your body’s way of warning you about something. This isn’t to say you should see your doctor for every little ache, but chronic pain should be thoroughly evaluated.
Secondly, as mentioned above, obesity is a major factor in knee pain every pound of body weight equates to five pounds of force on your knees. So, if you are overweight, lose the extra pounds. This alone may solve your problems.
Thirdly, if you have had knee pain, injury, or surgery in the past, be sure you stick to the rehab routine even if it seems slow and futile. Not following your doctor’s orders can have drastic consequences and exacerbate your injuries.
The fourth point has to do with the ACL, one of the most commonly injured ligaments. In the US alone, about 150,000 people injure their ACL each year. Certain sports make these injuries very likely and giving up these sports or engaging in them less frequently can help reduce your odds of harm. Some of the sports most commonly tied to ACL injuries include basketball, soccer, volleyball, and roller derby.
Fifthly, many knee injuries are a result of simply overdoing it. Running every day or hitting the stair climber five times a week can all result in your knees not having adequate time to recover from trauma. You don’t necessarily need to give up on exercising each day, but switch up the activities. If you run one day, use the elliptical the next, for instance.
Finally, the last thing you can do to prevent knee injury is to remember the muscles surrounding your knee. The muscles of the quadriceps and the hamstrings, especially, can help prevent knee injury when they are strong. Strengthening the body’s core muscles such as the obliques can also take pressure off of the knees and help them remain balanced and stable.
This article was contributed by Travis Guerrero, a health and nutrition expert who hopes to help you live a healthier life. He writes this on behalf of HealWell Medical Supply, your number one choice when looking for durable knee scooters. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!