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7 Tips for Preventing Knee Pain During Exercise

Preventing Knee Pain During Exercise, exercise, Integrated Medical Solutions, Knoxville, Tennessee

It's a catch-22. Knee pain makes it hard to exercise, especially as you age, but you know that if you don't exercise regularly, pain and other health issues will arise. On top of that, how you exercise could even make the knee pain worse instead of better, making it hard to know what to do, but simply throwing in the towel is not the answer.

A recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at the lifestyles of over 100,000 people. They found that lack of regular exercise, as indicated by the participant's cardiorespiratory health measured by a cardiac stress test, led to as many or more deaths from all causes compared to more publicized, traditional risk factors such as smoking, heart disease, and diabetes. In older patients, they found the differences in mortality rates between moderate exercisers and elite exercisers quite pronounced.

Staying active is important to your health and quality of life, so here's what you need to know about preventing knee pain during exercise to stay in the game.

1. Listen to your body

If your knees hurt when squatting, running, lifting, or putting other strain on them, continuing to do so will just increase the inflammation, leading to more pain and eventually joint damage. Instead, do low-impact, less weight-bearing activities like:

These allow your joints to move more freely with less pressure. Joint pain is never a good sign, so if the joint hurts when moving, start slowly and work your way up to more advanced activities.

2. Move throughout the day

Sitting all day at a desk job and then working out hard at the gym, increases the damage to your joints because long periods of non-movement allows joints to dry out and they can even develop infection-caused arthritis called osteomyelitis. Healthy bodies and joints move around throughout the day so if you have trouble remembering to get up and move, set your phone or fitness tracker to alert you to walk around every hour for about five minutes during the day.

3. Stretch smart

Unless you're a gymnast or doing advanced yoga, there's no need for extreme stretching. Overstretching the knee can actually cause the patella to rub against the bone, creating inflammation. Say "yes" to a good stretch but say "no" to trying to stretch your body to its limits. 

4. Warm up muscles and joints slowly

This increases joint lubrication and blood flow to the area and as you do this, the tension in your tendons releases slowly and the muscles in the front and back of your thigh become relaxed, relieving any extra strain that they might otherwise place on the knees if you just started moving at full speed.

5. Be consistent

Taking a couple weeks off and then running three miles a day for the next week to "catch up" will make you prone to injury and inflammation. The best way to prevent knee pain during exercise is to steadily increase your exercise level as your fitness improves. If you need to take a long break of a week or more for illness or injury, then ease yourself back into the activity to avoid re-injuring yourself.

6. Strengthen muscles

Stronger leg muscles better support and protects joints. They keep them stable while allowing a full range of motion which allows you to handle greater impact without the pain and damage. Long sedentary periods and lack of activity allow muscles to atrophy, so keep active and strong to protect your knees.

7. See a professional

Simply trying to stay tough through knee pain is never a good idea because you may be causing more permanent damage and it will only get worse. A spine or foot misalignment may be putting extra pressure on your knees or you may need to get the inflammation down first through acupuncture, therapy, or other treatments before continuing your routine. At Integrated Medical Solutions of Knoxville, Dr. Shreve takes an integrative, personalized approach to treating knee pain to help you get back out there and stay active.

Contact the office to request an appointment.

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