Rescue Plan for Knee Pain Relief and Prevention
Our knees bear much of the burden of our day-to-day activities. When our knees hurt, it can affect our motion as well as our emotions.
When we walk, our knees bear 3 to 5 times our body weight. Climbing a flight of stairs can double that pressure. If you play tennis or jog, you know your knees are taking a beating. So our knees—not our most reliable joint to begin with—need all the help we can give them to stay strong, flexible and pain free.
If you have knee pain, get an accurate diagnosis. Don’t assume you have osteoarthritis if your knees start to ache or swell. See an expert who can determine exactly what the problem is. You may have an acute injury or some other problem that requires specific treatment. Causes of knee pain can vary greatly.
If your diagnosis is mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis, or some other type of inflammation due to activity, the following tips can help you avoid pain and slow or possibly reverse some of the knee damage. If your knees are fine now, these steps can help you stave off future problems.
Knees and Exercise
There’s no doubt that exercise is vital to good health and longevity, so letting knee pain keep you down is not an option for those looking to live long and well. Furthermore, exercise is good for your joints and a recent study showed that regular, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise seems to build cartilage, not bash it. The study results conclusively showed the positive benefits of exercise on your knees.
But you need to start slowly to avoid injury. If you’re new to regular exercise, you’d be wise to start slowly, with a walking program, as well as do strength training to build up the muscles that support your knees.
Walking is so accessible and social! Having a walking buddy is one of the best ways to help maintain an ongoing exercise commitment and maintain excellent knee health. (If your arthritis is severe, consider a walking in water program—check with your local YMCA. Water will support your body weight as you ease into an exercise regimen.)
Knee Stretching and Warm Ups
Ready your knees and other joints for exercise by doing a gentle warm up for 10 minutes. Getting your blood moving bathes your knee in lubricating fluid. If you’re a walker, take a minimum of five minutes to walk easily before speeding up. If you’re going to lift weights, do some cardio first, to get all your joints warmed up. After warming up, gently stretch your hamstrings, thighs, calves and back and hips. It is important to stretch your knees to prevent knee pain and knee injuries. Below are some exercises you can get started with.
To build quadricep strength to support your knees:
- Wall Squats: Lean against the wall with a flat back. Bend your knees as you slide down the wall, as far as you can without pain. Then push back up. Knees should not push out past toes, so adjust your foot position accordingly. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Bent Leg Raises: Sit in a chair and straighten one leg, without locking the knee. Hold for as long as you can, up to 30 second. Release halfway down and repeat. Do 5-10 times.
To stretch your hamstrings to ease your knees:
- Lie on your back with a strap (like a tie or yoga strap) in one hand. Bend one knee and place foot flat on floor. Loop the strap around the opposite foot. Gently pull your leg up toward your head. Pull and release several times. Release and repeat on other side.
- Standing, put one foot forward, toes up. Bend the back knee and fold your arms over that thigh, feeling the stretch in the back of the extended leg. Breathe into the stretch for 30 seconds. Release and repeat on other side.
It’s a good idea to have a few activities you like to do so that you can rotate, challenging different muscles while you give other muscles a rest. If you walk or jog, trying bike riding or swimming a couple of days a week.
Shoes for Knee Health
Supportive athletic shoes are critical to protecting your knees when exercising. And your every day shoes should also be supportive to prevent knee injuries. When exercising, wear a shoe made for that specific sport. They have internal structures meant to keep your foot (and knee) stable under different kinds of stress. Check your shoes for wear by placing them on a table and looking at the heel. If you see uneven wear, allowing your foot to learn in or out, you’re overdue for a new pair. The right shoes will help prevent knee soreness, knee pain and more serious knee problems.
Topical Creams for Knee Pain Relief
For years people have used topical creams like BenGay® or Icy Hot® to ease muscle and arthritis pain. Applied directly to the joint they can block pain signals. Now, there are topical creams which relieve pain as well as provide support for healthy joint and cartilage function.
A patented compound called Celadrin® has been shown to give joint pain relief within 30 minutes. Celadrin is a mix of fatty acids that decreases inflammation and lubricates cell membranes, restoring fluids that cushion bones and joints and helps reduce cartilage breakdown when used regularly. In a study conducted at the University of Connecticut all of the 42 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee showed significant knee pain reduction within 30 minutes and after 30 days of twice daily applications, showed reduced knee pain, knee stiffness, improved balance and flexibility and better strength and mobility.
Topical creams containing ingredients such as glucosamine, MSM, arnica, capsaicin and others can ease knee pain, reduce inflammation and support healthy, flexible joints. These creams can be used in conjunction with joint related nutritional formulas.
Click here to see available topical creams for joint pain relief.
Nutritional Supplements for Knee Pain Relief
Nutritional supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, vitamin D, fish oil and curcumin have been proven in clinical studies to reduce pain and stiffness while at the same time attacking the underlying problems or producing other positive, health giving affects. While it may take more time to see results, you can rest assured that you’re helping, not just masking symptoms.
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are usually the first thing mainstream doctors will recommend for mild to moderate arthritis pain. They work by blocking prostaglandins that contribute to inflammation and pain. But each NSAID (Advil, Aleve, aspirin, or the Cox2 inhibitors like Vioxx) is a different chemical with slightly different effects on the body. All have significant side effects including stomach irritation, ulcers, bleeding and sometimes negative impact on the kidneys ranging from mild to life threatening. The longer you take them, the more likely you are to suffer from side effects. Plus long term use may actually make joints worse by destroying cartilage. That’s why trying nutritional options is of utmost importance. Nutritional supplements for inflammation and arthritis make you better off the next day, the next month, the next year—not worse.
Click here to see available nutritional supplements for joint pain relief.
Knees and Weight Loss
The more load you put on your knees, the more likely you are to have pain. That’s why walking up or down stairs can hurt more than walking around the house—it dramatically increases the weight load on your joints. If you’re overweight, losing body fat and building muscle could have a dramatic effect on your comfort level.
Knee stiffness and pain can drag you down. It’s important to take self care seriously and that means having fun and staying positive. Stress reduction and relaxation techniques can work wonders with knee pain relief. Studies have shown that attitude can dramatically affect how much pain a person with arthritis feels.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Excruciating knee pain and disability does not have to be a part of aging. You can prevent, slow and treat inflammation and pain with exercise, weight-loss, nutritional supplements and creams while improving your overall health and wellness and supporting your joints. Don’t wait—begin today!