Did you know that the knee is the largest joint in the human body? It isn’t surprising then to note that this joint is very susceptible to injuries. Tears of the knee joint ligaments are amongst the most common injuries faced by athletes. This can often be so bad that it leaves you bed ridden. However, you can protect yourself against such injuries. Here are a few things you can do to protect your knees.
The importance of a good warmup and cool down before and after a strenuous workout cannot be stressed enough. Stretching exercises help make your muscles more flexible and keep the joints from getting too stiff. You must do at least 2 sets of leg extensions before any exercise that puts pressure on your knees.
To protect your knees from injury, they must be strengthened from within. For this, you need to eat calcium as well as vitamin C, D and K. Vitamin D in particular is one of the most essential vitamins to maintain bone density. This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium and thus makes bones and cartilage stronger. To keep your knee joint strong, eat plenty of dairy products, eggs and green leafy vegetables.
Wear the Right Shoes
You can’t wear the same type of shoes for all activities. When you go for a run, you must wear shoes that support the foot and ankle and keep jerks from travelling between the ankle and the knee joint. If you have a weak knee or have had a minor knee injury earlier, you could also consider wearing a knee brace. This helps align your knee properly with the rest of your leg.
Have a Flexible Routine
Too much of anything is not a good for the body. Even when you exercise, you must switch things around a little from time to time. If running is part of your daily workout, replace it once a week with yoga. You could also try swimming or riding a cycle once a week. This gives your muscles a break and helps keep the knee joint flexible without over exertion. It also helps prevent injuries caused by muscle overuse.
Do not overdo lunges and squats when exercising. Maintain a 90 degree angle and keep your knee directly above your ankle. Also, exercise your inner thighs to strengthen the thigh muscles. This helps absorb jerks and protects the knee ligament. Also, avoid running up and down stairs. This can put sudden pressure on your knees and weaken them.
Take a Break
As mentioned above, too much exercise is not good for the body. Your body needs time to repair and strengthen muscles between workouts. Hence, give yourself a rest day at least once a week. You should also schedule rest breaks within your workout. Use this time to stretch the joint muscles. Along with exercising an eating right, you must also sleep for a minimum of 8 hours a night. If your knees feel stiff before going to bed, keep them elevated. This does not allow fluid to build up in the knee joint and prevents inflammation.
The joints that face the most problems because of excess weight are your knees. This is because your entire body weight rests on your knees when walking or standing.
So, if you are overweight and find yourself often complaining of knee pain, it could mean that you need to lose weight. With the right diet and light exercise, you should be able to notice an improvement in your knees with each kilo of weight you lose.
If you have weak knees, it is a good idea to have an ice pack handy after your workout. When applied as a cold pack, this helps numb the nerves in the knee. It also restricts blood flow and in turn reduces inflammation. Else, soak your knees in a bucket of cold water. When applying an ice pack, it is important never to bring your skin in direct contact with the ice pack. Instead, wrap the ice pack in a thin towel to create a buffer.
Do Not Ignore Pain
A little stiffness after a workout is normal. However, if you find the pain persistent, do not ignore it. As with any other joint issue, the earlier it is addressed, the easier it is to treat your problem. Consult a doctor if you find your knees inflamed or have even a slight dull pain that refuses to go away. You can consider over the counter anti-inflammatory medication but this can only be a short term remedy and should not be used more than once or twice without a doctor’s prescription. If need be, you might also need physical therapy.
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