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Top 10 Ways to Decrease Knee Pain

1. Lighten Up

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but being overweight is associated with knee pain. Here are the statistics:

  • Being overweight make women 4 times more likely (men 5 times more likely) to develop knee osteoarthritis.
  • New research shows that a 10% decrease in weight will result in a 28% increase in function (such as climbing stairs and walking).
  • Another study found that for every 11 pounds that a woman lost, there was a 50% decrease in risk of knee arthritis.
  • Fat decreases muscle strength. In fact, there exists an inverse relationship between body weight and quadriceps muscle strength; the higher your body weight, the weaker your knee muscles.

2. Be Nice to Your Calves

Wearing high-heeled shoes can increase knee pain. This style of shoe increases the compressive force on the knee by 23%. Also, wearing high-heeled shoes leads to calf muscle tightness which has also been linked to knee pain symptoms. My suggestion is to limit your heel wearing and to stretch out your calves on a regular basis.

3. See a Podiatrist

There are a couple of foot problems that can lead to knee pain; a high arch in the foot (pes cavus) as well as a reduced arch (pronation) to name a few. A foot specialist can recommend shoe inserts (orthotics) which will re-balance the foot alignment and decrease abnormal stress on the knee.

4. Invest in New Shoes Regularly

Exercise shoes wear out and lose their cushioning support. Runners should get new shoes every 300 miles. Participants in other aerobic or weight bearing sports, consider a new pair of shoes every 3 to 6 months.

5. Mix it Up

Too much pounding on the knees can eventually takes its toll. Take a break from high impact exercise and switch to low impact workouts such as swimming, the elliptical machine, Pilates or Yoga. Variation in physical activity is the best way to avoid repetitively strained and imbalanced muscles and gives the knees a fighting chance at recovery.

6. Frozen Peas

If you do engage in a strenuous activity that bothers your knees, throw a bag of frozen peas (or some ice) over the painful area for 10 minutes. This will reduce any inflammation that was created as your body’s response to the activity. Inflammation is a great way for your body to let you know that something is wrong, but you want to reduce it as soon as possible because it encourages scar tissue formation within the joint.

7. Don't Eat Saturated Fat

The cartilage of the knees may be susceptible to breaking down with the consumption of saturated fat. So stay away from those French fries and realize that it is not just for the sake of your waist line.

8. Stretch Out Your Hips

Decreases in the hip range of motion have been associated with knee problems.

To stretch out the hip joints, lie on your stomach, bend your knees so that your feet are pointing up towards the ceiling, then lower your feet to the sides (right foot to the right side and left foot to the left side) letting them come to rest about half way to the floor. Hold it there for 30 seconds and repeat daily.

Then do the opposite movement. Still on your stomach, draw the soles of your feet together so that your knees bend and slide up along the floor. You will be in a “frog stretch” position. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat daily.

9. Do the Right Exercises

On the side of your hip, there is a muscle that keeps your pelvis level as you walk. Weakness in this muscle (called your gluteus medius) causes a downward stress into the hip, knee, and ankle every time you take a step. To strengthen this important muscle, stand on one leg and kick your opposite leg out to the side, leading with your heel. Repeat 10 to 20 times on each side.

10. Try Glucosamine and Vitamins

Here is the skinny on popping pills for knee pain:

  • Glucosamine sulfate is highly recommended in Europe by the European League Against Rheumatism. This group just finished a six-month research study and found that glucosamine sulfate was significantly more effective at reducing knee pain than a placebo. In the US, Glucosamine and chondroitin are not regulated and research here has been "inconclusive".
  • Your best bet with supplements for knee joint pain is to take both glucosamine sulfate (not glucosamine hydrochloride) and chondroitin sulfate together. Take 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate and 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate once daily. It may take up to 3 months before you notice any benefits.
  • Don't take Tylenol at the same time as glucosamine sulfate. Acetaminophen can reduce the positive effects of the glucosamine.
  • Low levels of Vitamins C and D have been associated with knee osteoarthritis. Making sure to get enough Vitamin C and D into your diet is another way to help prevent degeneration of the knee joint.

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