Most people think knee pain is a “normal” part of aging, but that’s not true. What is true is that knee pain can become more common with age, typically as a result of osteoarthritis — and that’s why it’s especially important to do all you can now to prevent it from happening to you.
At his practice in Houston, Texas, Joshua D. Harris, MD, helps patients avoid knee problems in the future with patient-centered care and state-of-the-art knee joint preservation therapies tailored to each patient’s unique needs. In this post, learn what steps you can take now to avoid knee problems in the future.
Maintain a healthy weight
If you’re overweight, dropping those extra pounds now is one of the best things you can do for your knees — now and in the future. That’s because for every extra pound you’re carrying, you’re putting an added four pounds of pressure and stress on your knee joints.
Extra strain means an increased risk of cartilage damage, which in turn increases your risks of inflammation, pain, mobility problems, and ultimately, arthritis. Establishing a healthy eating plan now helps you maintain your weight moving forward, plus it offers plenty of other health benefits, too.
Stay active — but don’t overdo it
Your joints were made to move, and using them regularly can help keep them strong, flexible, and well lubricated. The key is to avoid high-impact activities that involve a lot of repetitive, pounding pressure on your knee joints.
Low-impact activities are ideal for knee health, including walking, swimming, bicycling, stretching, and yoga. These activities maintain strength and flexibility without overtaxing your knees. We can recommend exercises that are right for your knee health.
Strengthen your leg muscles
Physical exercise also helps strengthen the muscles in your legs, especially those that are directly involved in knee movement, like your hamstrings and quadriceps. Look for activities that strengthen your muscles without applying repetitive strain on your knees. Strengthening these muscles improves knee movement and stability, decreasing the risk of injuries.
Start slowly and increase your activity gradually to avoid causing pain or other problems. Again, Dr. Harris can recommend exercises to improve knee health without increasing the risk of damage or pain.
Don’t forget to warm up
Before any physical activity, it’s a good idea to warm up. Doing some stretches or taking a brief walk warms your muscles and preps your joints for more strenuous activity, whether that means a sport or a day spent weeding your garden. In fact, doing a little stretching and light cardio in the morning when you first wake up sets the stage for healthy movement throughout the day.
Use good posture
When most people think of posture-related problems, they think of back or neck pain. But poor posture can have a major impact on your knees, too.
When your posture is poor, it puts more strain on your joints, increasing your risks of injury and throwing off your balance and stability. Whether you're walking, running, or just standing still, using good posture distributes your weight more evenly across your knees and helps them function without strain or pain.
Choose the right shoes
Lots of people choose shoes based on the fashion statement they make, but your shoes do a lot more than just look good. Proper footwear provides support for your knees, absorbing impacts and keeping your knee joints stable and protected with every step you take.
Shoes with poor arch support, inadequate padding, or high heels can all take a toll on your knees, especially if you wear them regularly. Make sure the shoes you wear regularly are properly fitted, reserving the “fashion” shoes for brief periods of wear during special events.
Don’t ignore symptoms
Finally, one of the best ways to protect your knees now and in the future is to schedule an evaluation at the first sign of pain or stiffness. If you notice grinding sensations or popping or cracking noises — with or without pain — that’s a sign that you need an evaluation, too.
As with other medical issues, getting treatment early is essential for preventing more serious problems. Calling the office at the first sign of knee symptoms enables Dr. Harris to take important steps now, so you can avoid pain in the future.
Healthy knees could be in your future, as long as you take steps to protect your knees today. To learn what else you can do to protect your knees or to find a solution for your knee symptoms, call 713-441-8393 or book an appointment online with Dr. Joshua Harris today.