Knees – they take such a beating over our lifetime, and most people do not even give them a second thought, until there is pain, swelling, or worse – they cannot walk. Your knees are probably the most important joint in your body, and the most abused. They help hold you up, help you walk, allow you to kneel down, and more. As you age, it is important to understand your knees, how they work, how to care for them, and how to help prevent your knees from wearing out.
Knees gradually wear and tear over time (some may experience more wearing depending on their activity level), but can be managed successfully when you understand how they work and how to care for them. Your knee is a hinge joint and joins together your femur, tibia, and kneecap. These are all held together by ligaments, and include connective tissue that help protect your joint by acting as pads to keep bones from rubbing together.
As you age, you may begin to notice some knee pain (especially those that lead active lives) in addition to, knee twinges, less knee strength, knee swelling, and more. Many of these symptoms may be early indications of arthritis, however, there are other culprits that can cause you serious issue, including misalignment of the kneecap, torn ligaments, damaged connective tissue, and more. These issues can cause you lifestyle issues, as well as pain.
Protecting your knees should be a priority among all people, but certainly among boomers. What you need to understand is that you will need to change your activity level in order to help prevent the above issues and stay active with no knee pain.
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent knee pain and protect your knees:
1. Continue or start low-impact exercise on a regular basis, such as bike riding or swimming.
2. It is important that you stretch your legs and hips on a regular basis, to keep your ligaments and muscles in good shape.
3. If you have any extra weight, lose it. The added weight on your knees will cause undue stress as you age.
4. As you age, try to avoid exercise and sports that require more knee movement, such as frequent stops, starts and pivots (basketball, soccer).
5. Add other exercise into your active lifestyle. If you have always been a runner, cut running back to a few days a week and insert a low impact activity the other days.
You should also learn how to tell the early signs of arthritis – stiffness, swelling, pain, and noise when moving the joint. Lifestyle changes and some intervention are required to prevent arthritis from progressing and causing disability.
In addition, you can include foods in your diet that are known to help mend and restore bone, connective tissue, and cartilage, such as onion, garlic, asparagus, and avocado. Red cherries have also been known to help relieve pain and inflammation, and you only need to eat 20 a day.
Don’t wait until your knee pain has gotten out of control. Understand your knees and treat them well, after all they do so much for you!
Written by Tammy Moorehead