How to Keep Your Knees Feeling “Young”
It’s no secret people are living longer and are not letting age slow them down. However, knee pain, which can become more prevalent with time, may cause many to rethink how much time they are spending on their feet.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease, which creates “wear and tear” on joints like knees. It is the most common form of arthritis and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affects more than 30 million U.S. adults. The CDC estimates that 1 in 2 people will be affected by some form of OA in their lifetime. People with osteoarthritis in their knees might feel stiffness and achy pain that continues to worsen over time, making it more and more difficult to participate in everyday activities.
In addition to the physical pain, there is often a mental and emotional toll to the disease, which is less often discussed. The pain can rob a person of their independence and quality of life, making it difficult to carry out tasks the average person may take for granted like getting in and out of a car or walking up a flight of stairs. A recent online survey commissioned by DePuy Synthes of 500 U.S. women aged 45-65 who had hip or knee replacement surgery or plan to have surgery soon found virtually all respondents with significant hip or knee pain felt like they were living their lives ‘on pause,’ giving up activities they enjoy to avoid triggering pain.
There is good news though. With a few simple tips, women can proactively take steps to keep their knees feeling healthy and ‘younger’.
Keep it Low Impact Consider trading high-impact sports like tennis or running for low-impact activities like cycling, swimming or power walking that are easier on your knees.
Stretch it Out (Gently!): Stretching the muscles around your knees like your quadriceps or your calves can ease knee strain and increase flexibility. Try a simple standing quadricep stretch by standing with feet hip-width apart. Bend your right knee while grabbing on to your right foot with your right hand. Hold a wall or steady surface like a countertop for balance while gently pulling your foot towards your glute. Hold for thirty seconds before switching to the other side. A word of caution – never push through any severe pain when stretching. Take good care of your body by stretching gently.
Don’t Forget the Ice: After a workout, sit with an ice pack (or the age-old trick of using a bag of frozen peas) on your knees for about 10 to 20 minutes. This will help cut down on some of the inflammation and any lingering pain. Even if you aren’t feeling immediate pain or soreness, ice will help with the recovery process. Be sure to wrap the ice in a paper towel or cloth to avoid direct impact on the skin.
Mix Up Your Workouts: Changing your exercise routine can help build strength and flexibility in different muscles in your legs, helping alleviate some of the weight on your knees. If you are a swimmer, try adding yoga to your fitness routine or some light strength training. Remember to keep it low impact to avoid aggravating the joints.
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