Having a little trouble walking up the stairs recently? As we get older, our joints deteriorate from the constant wear and tear. 80 percent of Americans 55 and older suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that can be painful. Osteoarthritis can also reduce your joint function, making it difficult to engage in the activities you once enjoyed. That’s why keeping your knees healthy is so important—if you want to enjoy physical activity long into your golden years, it’s critical that you pay attention to your joint health.
Here are our best tips for healthy knees:
- Lose weight: You might not notice your weight creeping up unless you monitor it every day. Unfortunately, even 10 pounds of excess weight puts 30 to 40 pounds of extra force on your knees. This means your cartilage will deteriorate faster, leaving you in more pain than ever. If you’ve gained a bit of weight over the last year or so, it’s time to start following a sensible diet and exercise plan to reduce stress on your joints.
- Strengthen your muscles: The muscles that support your knees need some help, too. Strong quadriceps, hamstrings and abductors can help support your knees and reduce wear and tear on your cartilage. Start doing those squats!
- Stay active: Any kind of physical activity you do will help you keep weight off, strengthen your muscles and reduce your joint pain. Even running—which was once thought to be too high-impact to be helpful—is a good choice. Try to engage in as much physical activity as you can throughout the week. Remember, gardening, DIY construction projects, heavy house cleaning and long walks all count toward your activity rate.
- Maintain good posture: Slouching isn’t reserved for young people who spend too much time at the computer. As we get older, we tend to hunch over. This changes our center of gravity, which puts more force on the knees. If you want to keep your knees healthy, make sure you stand up straight, with your shoulders back and your chest out. Activities like yoga can help strengthen your core and improve your posture.
- Wear sensible shoes: No one really wants to admit that they’re at “sensible shoe” age, but luckily, there are plenty of stylish brands that aim to support your feet. If your feet are prone to rolling inward or outward while you walk, that can predict osteoarthritis in your older age. Look for shoes that support your feet and make it easier to maintain good posture. Similarly, make sure you have the right shoes for every activity, like walking or running.
- Pay attention to pain: Finally, pay attention if your knees are giving you trouble. If you have knee pain or swelling, rest your knees, ice them and elevate them until the pain passes. If the pain doesn’t stop, see an orthopedic doctor right away. The sooner you seek treatment, the faster you’ll heal.
For more tips to keep your knees healthy, make an appointment with Dr. Bernard Ong, M.D. today.
This post was written by Writer