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Knee pain is quite common across the world since it can be caused by numerous things such as overusing your muscles, excessive foot pronation, and arthritis etc. It’s such a common problem in the USA that knee arthritis is now regarded as the greatest cause of chronic disability in seniors aged 65 and over and the numbers are similar here in Canada.
There’s some light at the end of the tunnel though since you can avoid most forms of chronic knee pain with physical therapy and exercise, which is preferred over surgery by most people. The key to reducing knee pain is to stretch and strengthen the muscles which support your knees. These are five ways in which you can relieve and prevent bothersome knee pain.
1-Toning the core muscles
If your abdominal muscles are weak your pelvis will likely tilt forwards and this can cause your lower back to curve and the leg bones could shift inward. If your core muscles are strong enough they will help your back remain in a neutral position. This will result in less compression on your knees since they’ll be in the best position for body movement. There are several exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles with crunches being one of the most popular and common. Another beneficial method is to participate in Pilates workouts since they help to improving your core strength. Other common abdominal-muscle strengthening activities are abs-ball exercises, yoga, kickboxing, and dancing.
2-Strengthen the buttocks
It may surprise you to know that research has shown that many knee injuries such as ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) can be caused then your large hip muscles aren’t strong enough. Also, female athletes are more likely to suffer a torn ACL because of this. To make matters worse a torn ACL often results in torn cartilage and can eventually lead to knee arthritis later. In general, most people have weak buttock muscles. The gluteus maximus is the main muscle and it can cause the femur (upper thigh bone) to fall inward and the pelvis to drop if it’s weak. This causes an imbalance and can result in pain as there’s too much downward stress on your ankles, knees and hips when you walk. A good way to strengthen the gluteus maximus is to perform hip extensions.
3-Stretch the knee-supporting muscles
If the buttock muscles are imbalanced it means the inner thigh muscles (hip abductors) and hamstrings usually have to work too hard to compensate for it. This puts too much compressive pressure on the knee. If these supporting muscles are stretched properly it will become more difficult for them to tighten up and result in muscle imbalances. Therefore, when you strengthen muscles such as the gluteus maximus, which are naturally weak, you should also stretch the supporting muscles.
4-Watch your feet
The type of shoes you wear could place more strain on your knee joints. For instance, high heels can cause tightness in your calf muscles, which may lead to knee pain. When the calf muscle is too tight it can pull your foot inward. This position is known as pronation and it more or less causes the arch of the foot to collapse while the lower leg will roll inward. If this happens it will put stress on your knees and ankles. Flat shoes are better for your knees and it’s also a good idea to stretch your calf muscles regularly so they don’t tighten up. Also, workout or running shoes should be replaced every 300 miles to make sure your joints and arches are properly supported. Custom orthotics may be needed if you experience chronic foot pain.
5-Retain a healthy weight
If you’re overweight your chances of developing knee osteoarthritis will increase greatly. Research has shown that a decrease in weight will result in increased knee function for everyday tasks such as walking and climbing stairs. Also, studies have found that a female’s risk of developing knee arthritis will be cut in half for each 11 pounds of weight loss. This is because muscle strength is decreased by fat and excess weight puts unneeded strain on your knee joints. Basically, your knee muscles will be weaker the heavier you weigh. Some good methods of losing fat without putting too much pressure on your knees is to cycle, use an elliptical trainer, and/or participate in water aerobics.