If you suffer from knee pain during physical activity, you are not alone. One study from Gallup-Healthways found that 26% of the adult population in the US suffers from knee pain. Don’t let your bad knees limit you from reaching your full weight improvement potential. Instead, start implementing the strategies below to build your knees back up stronger for a leaner and pain-free future self!
1. Engage in low-impact cardio
High impact cardio, like running and jumping, can cause a lot of unnecessary stress on the body and has potential to lead to muscle and joint injuries. For safe knees, incorporate different methods of low-impact cardio to your workouts. Some examples of low impact cardio include the stair climber or step-ups, swimming, speed walking, dance classes, elliptical machines and biking.
2. Strengthen leg muscles, especially the gluteus maximus
Knee pain or injury can occur when large muscles in the hips and legs are weak. When the largest muscle in the body (gluteus maximus) is weak, it causes an imbalance of additional stress in the hip, knee and ankle. By strengthening your hips and leg muscles, you can safely stabilize the knee joint during activity. My favorite glute exercise is slow and controlled squats.
3. Strengthen core muscles
If your core muscles are weak, it causes an imbalance of stress in the pelvis, low back and legs. You might notice that if your posture is poor then your pelvis starts to tilt forward, which creates a low back curvature causing your legs to shift inward. Strengthening core muscles helps keep your back in a neutral spine position and places the lower extremities in the best possible position for movement without joint compression.
4. Stretch the hamstrings, hip and calf muscles
Since our hamstrings and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) are taking on additional stress from a weak gluteus maximus, unnecessary force is placed on the knee. The imbalances can be magnified for those that sit at a desk all day, which is why we recommend taking stretch and walking breaks at work. By stretching and staying active, you decrease the chance for muscle imbalances.
5. Wear supported shoes
When you can, choose to wear supported flats. High-heeled shoes increase the compressive force on your knee joints by 23%. Wearing heels also encourages tight calf muscles, which can pull the foot and leg inward causing unnecessary stress to the ankle and knee. It is also recommended to replace your workout shoes every 300 to 500 miles to avoid injury.
Participating in the Weigh and Win program and improving your lifestyle habits will benefit your knees as well. New research shows that a 10 percent decrease in weight will result in a 28 percent increase in knee function (such as climbing stairs and walking). Another study found that for every 11 pounds a woman loses, there is a remarkable 50 percent decrease in the risk of knee arthritis. The point is if you have knee pain, it doesn’t have to be permanent. If you have any questions, please email the Weigh and Win Health Coaches at [email protected].