In a popular 1997 commencement essay, columnist Mary Schmich bestowed a solid piece of counsel on the graduating crowd: “Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.” If only we all heeded that advice! Comprised of four bones, five ligaments, two major tendons, and an intricate web of soft tissues like cartilage, joint fluid, bursae, and muscle, the knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body, being especially prone to injury without proper care. The resulting knee pain can be debilitating, causing sleepless nights, missed work, and even preventing an active, fulfilling lifestyle. How can you save your knees? Avoiding the following four mistakes is a great place to start.
Ignoring Your Pain
The random ache is common; we’ve all had days where we’ve found ourselves reaching for an ice pack or an anti-inflammatory pill. The key to maintaining knee health, however, is knowing when you can and can’t ignore it. Pain is your body’s way of communicating something is wrong; if you ignore the call, it will only worsen. If your knee pain is limiting your regular activities, it’s time to see the doctor.
Not Resting and Rehabbing
If you’re one of the 10.4 million Americans that, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, has sustained an injury this year, following orders for resting and recuperation will be crucial to your recovery. Depending on the type of injury, your treatments may last a couple of weeks to several months, and overworking a compromised knee joint could delay healing, or cause re-injury or new damage that could result in permanent disability.
Carrying Extra Weight
Every pound of body weight exerts an extra 4 pounds of force on the knee joint, and more weight can equal more knee pain. Over 61 million people experience it annually, and since over 70% of Americans are overweight, it’s not hard to see why. The John’s Hopkins Arthritis Center reported on a study that found that for overweight women, losing just 11 pounds reduces the risk of knee OA by more than 50%, and for men, the numbers were still impressive at 21.5%. Finding knee pain relief through weight loss is an easy fix to a potentially big problem.
Overworking and Under-conditioning
The knee joints must operate with the right balance of stability and mobility, pivoting, back and forth motion and twisting, so lack of conditioning is a sure fire way to ruin a perfectly good pair. Movement of the joint is complex, and it’s easy to develop poor mechanical habits that can lead to long-term wear. Neuromuscular training can “rewire” problem movements, and provide knee pain relief through improvements in agility, leg strengthening, and jump/landing techniques that increase stability and can reduce risk of injury by half. Also, the Mayo Clinic indicates that weak muscles and lack of flexibility are primary causes of knee injuries. Building and stretching muscles around the knee, hip, pelvis and core will keep the knee stable and balanced and provide support by absorbing stress.
Time to Find Knee Pain Relief
If your knees are nagging you to find relief, the Flexogenix® team will create a customized treatment plan including physical conditioning to help you avoid surgery and regain your active lifestyle. Contact us today for a free consultation.