Knee pain dos and don’ts: Tips for protecting your knees

Whether you’re rehabbing an injury, managing arthritis or just dealing with the aches and pains of getting older, some specific tactics can reduce joint pain. Follow these dos and don’ts to help your knees feel their best.

Do exercise regularly

A common myth about knee pain is that less movement equals less pain. But regular exercise will help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint. The result is much more support and much less pain. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your doctor which movements are safe for you.

Don’t jostle your joints

Walking, swimming, cycling, using the elliptical machine or participating in water aerobics are all excellent low-impact exercise options. Avoid movements that will put more stress on your joints, like running, jumping and playing sports.

Do shed excess weight

For every pound of excess weight, your knees experience four extra pounds1 of pressure. If you are overweight, even losing just 10 pounds can take an equivalent of 40 pounds of pressure off your joints! Maintaining a healthy weight can help to slow the degeneration of the knee joint, so start a plan to shed any weight that you don’t need to be carrying.

Don’t risk a fall

When your knees are unstable, your risk of falling rises. And just one untimely fall can increase damage to the knee. Take extra steps to make sure your home is well-lit and free of excess clutter that could pose a fall risk. Use handrails on staircases and exercise extra caution in snowy or rainy weather. And check out these tips for avoiding a fall.

Do choose your shoes carefully

Your shoes aren’t just important to your foot health. Choosing the right footwear is crucial for preventing knee pain, as well as decreasing your fall risk. If you have knee osteoarthritis, you may benefit from special cushioned insoles to reduce stress on your knee. Ask your doctor for a specific recommendation when choosing shoes and insoles.

Don’t be shy about asking for help

Don’t be afraid to ask loved ones to walk more slowly or to wait for you. A crutch or cane can also significantly reduce the pressure on your knee. While braces don’t necessarily prevent injuries, they can help you stay more stable if you’ve had previous injuries.

Do speak with a doctor

If your knee pain is new or if you have a chronic condition that’s causing your pain, check in with your doctor. When you get treatment right away, you have a better chance of preventing damage. An orthopedist can provide you with a diagnosis and treatment options to get you back to living a life with less knee pain.

1 Wiley online library: "Weight loss reduces knee‐joint loads in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis"

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Kathryn Harada, BSN, BA, RN, PHN, CNOR

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