Over the course of your lifetime, your knees tend to take a pounding even if you don’t realize it. They are constantly in use, you use them to sit, stand, walk, run, and make limitless other movements with your legs. There are some things to take into consideration while managing your knee joint pain, first your weight, and second your daily activities.
First, let’s take a look at how your weight impacts your overall knee health. According to Harvard Medical School, when you walk on level ground, the force on your knees is the equivalent of 1½ times your body weight. To put that in perspective, that means a 140-pound woman puts 210 pounds of pressure on her knees with every step! This pressure is increased when you add an incline, in fact, the force on each knee is two to three times your body weight when you go up and down stairs, and four to five times your body weight when you squat to tie your shoes or pick up a dropped item.
With that in mind, maintaining a healthy weight is a great first step to improving your joint health. Any excess weight that your body carries places additional stress on weight-bearing joints, especially your knees. Losing a couple of pounds can go a long way toward reducing the pressure on your knees and can also help to protect them down the road. Research shows that losing a sustained weight of 10 to 15 pounds in obese young people can directly translate to a lowered risk of osteoarthritis later in life.
There are also numerous activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help keep your knees pain-free as you age. Walking is an effective cardiovascular activity that places low-stress on knee joints. This exercise is easily accessible to a majority of people who will feel the effects by simply adding a mere 15 to 30 minutes of leisurely walking every day.
Stretching is also a key addition to your routine, as your leg muscles work in conjunction with your knees and other joints. A great stretch to try is known as the knee-to-thigh stretch. To do this, begin by sitting on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you, and then bring one foot towards your opposite knee. Drop your leg out to the side as you place the sole of your foot on your opposite inner thigh. Then, bend at the waist and slowly fold forward, reaching your hands toward your toes. Stay here for 1 to 2 minutes, and then switch sides. It’s okay if you can’t reach all the way to your toes, just focus on stretching your hamstring and breathing through the motions.