The number-one secret for happy knees? Stay at a healthy weight. Every extra pound you pack on puts about 4 extra pounds of pressure on your knees when you walk or take the stairs.
If you don’t take care of your knees, you might end up with constant pain and discomfort. The good news is there are simple things you can do to prevent and reduce knee pain. But first check with a physician if you already have knee pain.
Note that we’re more prone to knee pain as we grow older. So it’s important use a training approach that favors your knees and other joints. Below are 8 things you should and shouldn’t do to maintain healthy knees.
1. Strengthen leg muscles
Having weak leg muscles increases the impact on the knees. While strengthening the leg muscles will put less pressure on the knees. Do exercises that target the quadriceps, hamstrings and the calves. Here the best and worst exercises for bad knees.
2. Don’t do high-impact exercises
Avoid exercises like sprints, box jumps, jumping rope and running. These exercises put pressure on the knees and increase knee pain. Instead, do low impact exercises like walking, swimming, moderate cycling and tai chi.
3. Stretch frequently
Tight muscles increase risk of injury and joint pain. So increase the flexibility of the muscles attached to the knees – quadriceps, IT band, hamstrings and calves. Stretch these muscles after every workout.
4. Don’t take long rests
One of the biggest mistakes folks make is avoiding exercise when they start experiencing knee pain. Being inactive will only make the pain worse because your leg muscles will become weaker and tighter. Get exercise advice from a physician if you have severe knee pain.
5. Get enough omega-3s
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids help reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility. The best sources of omega-3s include, fish oil, krill oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds and egg yolks. Make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D to keep the bones strong.
6. Don’t train through the pain
The ‘no pain no gain’ mantra will only hurt you knees. Find exercises that don’t cause severe pain on your joints. And avoid bending the knees excessively or completely locking the knees when doing these exercises. Exercises like deep squats should be avoided if they cause pain.
7. Lose weight
Losing a few pounds will definitely keep your knees pain-free. And here’s why – the more weight you carry, the more pressure on your knees. Start eating nutrient-dense and high-fiber foods to lose fat faster.
8. Don’t wear the wrong shoes
The shoes you wear affect the knee joints, hips and ankles. So it’s important to choose the right shoes if you want to maintain healthy knees. Avoid shoes with heels higher than 2 inches, flip flops (they can lead to falls) and clogs. Wear soft, flexible sneakers, ballet flats and so on.