Living with knee problems
By the time you reach middle age, your knees have logged a lot of miles. Wear and tear can cause arthritic changes that make everyday activities painful. Jeffrey Hopkins, MD, said, “If you’re starting to notice problems with your knees, there are exercises that can help.” Here are some tips on what you can do.
When living with knee problems, everyone should get three types of exercise regularly:
- Range-of-motion exercises to help maintain normal joint movement and relieve stiffness.
- Strengthening exercises to help keep or increase muscle strength. Keeping muscles strong with exercises, such as walking upstairs, doing leg lifts or dips, or riding a stationary bicycle, helps support and protect the knee.
- Aerobic or endurance exercises to improve function of the heart and circulation and to help control weight. Weight control can be important if you have arthritis because extra weight puts pressure on many joints. Some studies show that aerobic exercise can reduce inflammation in some joints.
Your doctor or physical therapist can help you come up with an exercise plan. This can help your knee(s) without increasing the risk of injury or further damage. As a general rule, you should avoid jarring exercises such as jogging or high-impact aerobics and choose gentle exercises such as:
- Aquatic exercise
Can I prevent knee problems?
Some knee problems, such as those resulting from an accident, can’t be prevented. However, you can prevent many knee problems by doing the following:
- Warm up before playing sports. Walking and stretching are good warm-up exercises.
- Stretching your muscles in the front and the back of the thighs is a good way to warm up your knees.
- Make your leg muscles strong by doing certain exercises. For example, try walking upstairs, riding a stationary bicycle, or working out with weights.
- Avoid sudden changes in the intensity of your exercise.
- Increase the force or duration of your activity slowly.
- Wear shoes that fit and are in good condition.
- Aim to maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts pressure on your knees.