With every step, your knees support about one-and-a-half times your full body weight.
We barely notice this when we’re younger. In high school, we zip around the running track during gym with no complaints. Even in our 20s and into our 30s, a walk around the neighborhood or a hike through a park often doesn’t faze us at all.
But as we get older, our knees start to show the signs of wear. And as we try to maintain an active lifestyle later into life, it’s important that we do what we can when we’re young to keep our knees healthy.
What happens as our knees age
The knee is held together with a series of muscles and ligaments. As we age, the muscles get weaker and the ligaments get looser, causing our knees to become less stable.
The knees also include two discs of cartilage, called menisci, that work like shock absorbers. These, too, begin to deteriorate as we age.
Weakened muscles and tendons increase our risk of spraining, tweaking or otherwise injuring our knees. And the deteriorating cartilage makes bones rub together.
The trick to keeping your knees healthy is keeping these bones and ligaments strong and the cartilage healthy.
Keeping your knees young
So, how do we avoid knee pain and disability as we get older? Here are a few tricks:
- Avoid injury. Trauma is one of the leading causes for knee pain. It may be too late to “zig” when you should’ve “zagged” to dodge that tackle when you played high school football, but it’s not too late to avoid further damage. Wear a knee brace for extra support and avoid sports or other activities that could damage it more.
- Manage your weight. Remember — one-and-a-half times your body weight with each step! Maintaining a healthy weight keeps pressure off your knees. It also helps you stay more active and keep your balance, preventing further injury.
- Keep your muscles strong. Squats and step-ups are a great way to keep your knees strong. Consider an appointment with a physical therapist to make sure you’re using the right technique.
- Don’t overdo it. Squatting for long periods of time — like while gardening — and standing for long periods on hard surfaces strains your knees.
- If you have knee pain, seek treatment. When our joints hurt, we compensate by shifting more work to our other joints. With knee injuries, this changes our gait, putting more pressure on our hips and other knee. That can lead to two bad knees — and bad hips — instead of one.
If you’re experiencing knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain or any other orthopedic issue, Tanner Ortho and Spine Center offers specialized, accredited care for orthopedic issues. Stop living in pain — let us help you get back to your life.