Knee pain can happen to anyone—old, young, fit, overweight, active, sedentary—knee pain doesn’t discriminate. Genetic factors may bring arthritis to the knees, and sometimes over-pronation, bodily misalignment or good old-fashioned exercise can cause knee soreness.
But no matter why the knees are hurting, the good news is that there are things anyone can do to lessen the aching. Below are some tips recommended by health and fitness experts, doctors and researchers to help stop knee pain.
1. Weighty Matters—
Nobody likes to hear this important tip, but it must be said that one of the most effective ways to lessen knee pain is to reduce the amount of weight the joints are supporting.
Many people use their bad knees as an excuse to avoid exercise, exacerbating the problem with weight gain, but this is actually not a legitimate excuse because there are knee-friendly exercises (see: next tip).
2. Do Gentle Knee-Friendly Exercises—
If you can walk, you can exercise, no matter how out-of-shape you may feel. But if even walking hurts your knees, consider swimming. Swimming builds the muscles around the knees to support them while placing no strain on the joints.
Another knee-friendly exercise is biking, especially on a stationary bike to reduce the potentially jarring effects of outdoor biking. Elliptical and rowing trainers can be helpful as well, and always remember to stretch first.
3. Comfort Trumps Fashion—
Don’t let vanity tighten your calf muscles and increase knee and foot pain. High-heeled shoes place extra pressure on the feet and knees, causing inflammation and permanent damage over time.
Be sure to wear the right shoes with good cushioning while exercising, or embrace the barefoot trend which has been shown to encourage proper muscle and tendon alignment.
4. Sample Some Supplements—
Recent studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements work for some people, making them worth a try.
Other supplements known for having anti-inflammatory effects are cherry juice, vitamin C, Omega-3s, turmeric, grape seed, ginger, oregano, coriander, flaxseed and yucca root.
Spinach, onions, walnuts and salmon are also great anti-inflammatory foods to include in your weekly diet, and avoiding inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugar is always a good idea.
5. Build Your Buns—
When the sitting muscles weaken, this can have a domino effect down the legs. As rear end muscles drop, the pelvis lowers, throwing the thigh muscles out of alignment to strain knees and feet.
The solution is to start at the top by doing strength training exercises for the glutes and the quads, because strengthening all of these muscle groups will support the knee joints to reduce pressure.
And don’t forget to work the calf muscles while you’re at it, because weak calves can also contribute to knee pain.
6. More Core, Less Sore—
If you can strengthen your core, you will not only be doing your knees a huge favor; the rest of your body will benefit along with them. As the core grows stronger, it assists many of the muscles of the body, reducing pressure on the joints.
Another positive about strengthening core muscles is that it can be done via floor exercises and other forms of strength training that don’t involve the knees.
7. Use Ice and Be Nice—
Using ice on the knees post-exercise for 20 minutes can reduce inflammation, and elevating the legs while icing will increase the positive results.
Also, know your limits during workouts and be careful not to get caught up in the activity, pushing knees past what you know they can handle. If you do take it too far, be sure to allow knees adequate rest and healing before your next session.
When it comes to joints, pain doesn’t equal gain, and can actually set back your fitness goals.
People are different, so what might work in a study or anecdotally for one person may not work for somebody else, but maybe if you try some the tips and suggestions above, you’ll find the one that works for you. You’ve got nothing to lose but knee pain, after all.