“Be kind to your knees; you’ll miss them when they’re gone.”
–Baz Luhrmann, “The Sunscreen Song”
Among all the other priceless pieces of advice Baz offers throughout that song, this one in particular is sure to hit home for many of us. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that one in three adults experience knee pain from time to time and in general, pain in the knees is much more common than pain in any other joint. If you are unfortunately a part of these statistics, here are a few ways you might be able to find your way out.
Reducing Your Risk of Knee Pain!
1.) See a Podiatrist! Are you familiar with the terms overpronation, or flat feet, and underpronation, or supination? These are biomechanical terms that refer to the way your feet hit the ground when walking and more importantly running. They are directly related to having little to no arch or having a very high arch, respectively. If you have chronic pain in your ankles, knees and/or back, it is worth checking out with a foot doctor because your feet may have a mind of their own, causing injury. Both overpronation and underpronation are treatable with over the counter orthotics.
2.) Strengthen Your Butt Muscles! You hear that? Another reason to feel good about squats and lunges ladies! Knee injuries often occur when hip muscles are weak. Most simply explained, when the main butt muscle is weak, the pelvis and upper thigh bone fall inward causing an imbalance for hips, knees, and ankles that is only further exaggerated when you exercise. So next time you’re sweating through a set of single leg deadlifts, keep in mind that you’re doing good for your knees as well.
3.) Strengthen the Muscles That Support Your Knees! Along the same line as #2, in order to eliminate imbalances between your gluteus maximus (main butt muscle!) and supporting muscles, you should remember to work your inner thighs, hamstrings, and hip adductors. There is a reason we try to work the entire leg and not just one part and this is it! We want your whole body to get a good, balanced workout.
4.) Maintain a Healthy Weight – It has been said that for every 11 pounds a woman loses, there is a 50% decrease in the risk of knee arthritis. Now this is not to say that you should go try and lose 22 pounds to eliminate the risk altogether but rather just that you should find what a healthy weight is for you. Then get there! Fat decreases muscle strength and excess body weight also puts a harder strain on your knee joints. If you are already experiencing knee pain, give water aerobics, biking, or the elliptical a try!
When to See a Doctor or Chiropractor about Knee Pain
You can try to DIY and be a tough gal all you want but there are some cases where it is truly best to just see a doctor. If you hear any popping sounds, experience severe pain, swelling, limping or literally are unable to move your knees you should be sure to see a doctor. Even if your knee pain is not as severe as this, keep in mind that less is more! Yes, we know how hard it is to cut back on workouts once you’ve gotten a good routine going but if you keep exercising on injured knees, you are risking a chance at lifelong damage and missing a few workouts is a much smaller price to pay.