Your Knees are Caught in the Middle
For runners and most active people, knees pain is a frequent complaint. That aching, tightness, popping, and swelling makes everyday activities difficult to manage. Knees tend to ache more than other joints because they are caught in the middle of the leg and experience their own pain plus referred pain from any foot or hip injury. Understanding knee and arthritis pain is important to treating it!
Knee Pain is Caused by Cartilage Breakdown
Knee pain stems from weakness, injury or excess weight, but another common cause of joint pain is cartilage damage. When people are diagnosed with arthritis this means their cartilage is damaged.
Cartilage is a biomechanical wonder. It lines and protects the ends of our bones. For some people, cartilage breaks down in what is called osteoarthritis. Typically, this break down is most painful in the knee and hip area.
DIY Knee Pain Prevention
We need our knees to walk, move and live our lives. We have no time to stop living because of aging cartilage and subsequent knee pain!
If you are suffering from knee pain & arthritis or just want to prevent future damage, here is a list of ways that you can slow down cartilage wear and tear.
Loosen Up Tight Joints with Heat
Applying heat to tight joints is important before a workout and if your joints are especially tight, you might want to apply heat in the morning to help keep you from aching during the day. You can use heating pads, hot water bottles or thermal wraps. The key is to have a constant application of approximately 104 degrees of heat over time. Somethermal wraps last up to 12 hours and are perfect on the go use, versus a heating pad that leaves you plugged into the wall.
You may be drawn to heating and cooling gels to alleviate knee pain, these gels do not reach deep enough into your body to increase the circulation around your joint.
Reduce Inflammation with Ice
At the end of a long day, after a workout or anytime your joints ache, soothe them with ice. Ice calms the inflammatory process and it confuses the pain pathways causing a decreases in pain. Apply the ice pack or simply a bag with ice onto a thin towel over your joint. The towel is a must. Our skin get’s thinner with age and the towel will prevent damage. Apply the ice for a minimum of 20-30 minutes at a time.
Reduce Inflammation with NSAIDS
We know that many of you are not “pill people” because you don’t like pills that simply mask pain. NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, do more than treat the pain, they treat the cause of the pain. Remember, before you take us up on our suggestion of NSAIDS, check with your doctor. This is especially key if you have stomach problems. In general, these medications are taken several times a day and take several days to build up a therapeutic level in your blood.
Strengthen You Body with Resistance Training
If you want healthy knees, you need strong quads. For healthy hips, you need a strong core and strong butt! The key to healthy knees is strong quads and the key to healthy hips are strong cores and buttocks. Resistance training will improve the health of your joints, and if you’re an athlete, it will improve your game, too! Remember: if you have knee pain, especially in the front of your knees, never do another knee extension. Knee extensions magnify the weight you are lifting 10 fold and put all of that pressure onto your knee cap.
We know that a lot of our readers don’t like to rest. You’re active people, always on the go. But it’s important to take time to rest your body, especially your joints. Listen to your body. If your joints are sore, then rest. This does not mean sitting on the couch watching reality tv and eating ice cream for several days! Instead get on a bike, use a rowing machine or an elliptical, workout only your upper body for one day. We call this “active rest.”
We hope these tips will help you manage your arthritic knee pain or prevent it from occurring.
For more tips, check out my three books: Fitness After 40, Guide to Thrive, and Fitness After 40 Second Edition!
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