Knee pain can really slow you down. If you’re active at all, especially if you walk, jog, cycle or do other physical activities that require repetitive knee bending or place stress on your knees, then you’re at risk for knee pain and injury. Here’s how you can protect your knees to avoid knee pain.
1) Wear Appropriate Footwear
If you’re walking, jogging or running, wear appropriate footwear. Visit a specialty shop and purchase custom fitted shoes designed to provide the appropriate support for whatever athletic activity you’re pursuing. Walking, running and jogging shoes provide the right level of shock absorption to protect your knees from stress injuries.
If you have fallen arches or other foot problems, see a podiatrist to acquire corrective footwear. Fallen arches and other foot problems are one of the primary causes of knee pain.
2) Stay Off the Concrete
If at all possible, don’t run, jog or walk on concrete. Concrete doesn’t absorb the impact stress from your foot falls, so you’re likely to sustain knee damage over time if you walk or run on concrete. Instead, walk or run on dirt, grass or a professional athletic track.
3) Increase Your Workout Intensity Slowly
If you’re walking, running or jogging for fitness, avoid knee pain and overuse injury by adhering to the rule of ten percent. Don’t increase the length of your workout or the intensity of your workout by more than ten percent per week. If you’re adding more downhill and uphill terrain to your walk or jog, add only ten percent more difficult terrain than you’re already accustomed too.
4) Warm Up Before Workouts
Warming up before workouts lubricates your joints and prepares your muscles for exercise. Five to ten minutes of light exercise, like walking at a brisk pace, should be enough to warm you up for exercise.
5) Strengthen Your Knees with Toning Exercises
Muscular imbalances are often responsible for knee injuries and pain. Add toning exercises to your workout to strengthen the lower body muscles that support your knees. Squats, hamstring curls and leg lifts are all great ways to strengthen your leg muscles. Swimming and walking (with appropriate footwear) are also great ways to build strength in your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
If you’re isolating leg muscles to build strength and support the knee joint, make sure you work on all the muscle groups of your leg, including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, adductors (inner thigh muscles) and abductors (outer thigh muscles). If one muscle is weaker or stronger than the others, you could experience knee pain or even sustain a knee injury if an overly strong muscle pulls your kneecap out of place.
6) Stretch Your Muscles Before and After Workouts
Stretch your muscles properly before and after workouts. Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles and increases muscular elasticity to prevent injury. Stretching your leg muscles properly also keeps tight muscles from causing an imbalance in your legs that could pull your kneecap out of place and cause knee pain or damage to the knee.