How to care for knees as you age
As you grow older, the likelihood of knee pain gets greater. This is usually because of osteoarthritis which refers to the wearing away of knee cartilage. However, the good news is that you can delay this and may even be able to prevent them entirely.
What causes the deterioration of the knee?
You would be surprised to know that with every step you take, your knees absorb pressure that is usually one-and-a-half times your body weight. Over a period of time, this pressure combined with regular wear and tear weakens your muscles and ligaments. The knee has shock absorbers which are pads of cartilage known as menisci which begin to deteriorate. In the same way, the articular cartilage which protects the ends of your leg bones at the point it meets at the knee also deteriorates. Once the cartilage is gone, this makes the bones rub against each other causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.
What are the risk factors?
Risk factors are a family history of osteoarthritis, overweight and knee injuries.
How do you strengthen your muscles?
Strengthening your muscles can help keep your knee strong and prevent deterioration. Strengthen your hip and core muscles and this will help maximize the knee’s functions. Consult a physiotherapist who can recommend the right exercises that will suit your condition.
In case you are overweight, each extra pound you have puts four more pounds of pressure on your joints. When you lose weight, this decreases the pressure and pain on your joints.
Improve your range of motion
As you grow older, your knees are likely to get stiffer. Do exercises that improve your range of motion. Here’s one that you can try at home. Sit on a bed or floor and put a pillow under the ankle. Next, use your leg muscles to force the knee down gently.