If you’re like most people, you take your knees for granted. But when knee pain strikes, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that our knees play a crucial role in our everyday lives. Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including obesity, arthritis, and injury. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ease the pressure on your knees and improve your joint health.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

The most important factor in sustaining pain-free knees throughout your life is to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re not sure what your ideal weight is, talk with your primary care physician or visit the CDC website for a breakdown of general BMI. Keep in mind that, even if you are significantly overweight, every pound you lose decreases the stress on your knees and the rest of your lower body with every step you take. Breaking up your weight loss journey into easily achievable, short-term goals will keep you motivated and give you the best possible chance at success.

Participate in Aerobic Activities 

Staying fit and active is good for your heart and your overall health – it’s also a key part of the formula for healthy knees.

Many people choose running as a way to get aerobic exercise, however, running on concrete surfaces can take a toll on the knees over time. To minimize the stress on your knees, be sure to stretch well before and after you run, take time to warm up and cool down, buy well-fitting running shoes, and replace them regularly.

For great aerobic benefit without overstressing the knees, try swimming. This activity provides an effective workout for the entire body with minimal pressure on the joints. Other excellent aerobic options that minimize knee stress include using an elliptical machine and brisk walking, which is a highly effective and inexpensive way to get exercise.

Stay Strong

Multiple muscles cross the knee joint and enable it to move. Weight training can keep these muscles toned and, in turn, enable the knee joint to function the way it’s supposed to. In addition, be sure to target a variety of muscle groups in the lower extremity, such as hip muscles, thigh muscles, and your core. These muscles all work together to support your body and deserve attention.

Yoga and Pilates are two other excellent options for knee-strengthening exercises. Both of these activities emphasize proper form and alignment, which is crucial for knee health. As with any exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor before starting yoga or Pilates, especially if you have knee pain or a previous injury.

Even when living a healthy lifestyle, you may experience knee pain. It is fine to treat minor, short-term aches and pains with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or ice, however, if your knee pain continues or keeps you from your favorite activities, it may be time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nelson. He will be able to examine your condition and then recommend various options for treatment.