Your knees allow for a range of movements while bearing nearly the entire weight of your body; plus, they’re made of several moving parts, including bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. This makes them especially vulnerable to injury: if any of those components pulls, tears, or wears out, knee pain results. And knee pain can quickly put a damper on an active lifestyle.
Staying active is an important part of staying healthy. Without exercise, you may find your weight creeping up, and those added pounds put more strain on your knees, which only compounds your pain. This can lead to an ever-increasing cycle of pain and inactivity.
The best way to maintain an active, pain-free lifestyle is to prevent injury in the first place. At Midtown East Physical Therapy, we’ve helped men and women throughout New York overcome and prevent knee injuries. Here are a few things you can do to protect your knees and prevent injury when you exercise.
1. Switch up your routine
Many knee injuries occur from overuse. Doing the same exercises day in and day out, especially if those exercises place significant strain or pressure on your knees, may actually be doing you more harm than good.
Instead, try balancing cardio and strength training. This allows you to build muscle that supports your knees while also giving your heart a workout. Additionally, alternating low and high impact activities not only spares your knees, but it also keeps your workout fresh. So, take a break from running and try swimming laps, or switch that Krav Maga class for yoga.
Protecting your knees means protecting the muscles and tendons around the joint. Tight muscles put tension on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of most injury-prone components of the knee.
To protect your ACL and other tendons and ligaments around the knee, be sure to stretch both your legs and your back. Make sure that your quads, calves, and glutes are all thoroughly stretched and warmed up before you begin any exercise.
3. Wear proper shoes
We can’t stress enough the importance of proper footwear. Different shoes are specifically designed for different activities, helping improve your balance and ensure that your activities don’t place undue stress on specific parts of your body — like your knees. If you aren’t sure which shoes are best for your activity, ask our experts at Midtown East Physical Therapy for advice.
4. Focus on improving your posture
Keeping your back, hips, and knees in line is an important part of protecting your knees. This isn’t just vital for weightlifting or yoga, but for everyday activities like walking, running, and jumping as well.
If you lean forward during these activities, you put more stress on your knees. If you jump, twisting both your hips and knees, you are far more likely to strain or tear the ligaments in your knees.
5. Listen to your body
If you experience pain in your knees, don’t assume you can “power through it.” Stop what you’re doing and give your knees a rest. Choose a different, knee-friendly exercise such as cycling or swimming until your knee heals.
If you’re struggling with knee pain that won’t go away or you want to learn more about preventing knee injuries before they happen, call Midtown East Physical Therapy or book an appointment online today.