Appreciate Your Knees
By Juliana Sun & Alisa
Your knees are the largest joints in your body and support a great deal of your body weight. Even carrying out simple, everyday movements such as walking, standing and sitting puts a lot of stress on the knees.
Not surprisingly, knee pain is a very common problem, affecting young and old alike. Some causes include inflammation caused by muscle weakness, poor flexibility, doing high-impact fitness routines without warming up, unsuitable shoes, and structural knee problems such as arthritis, torn cartilage or ligament damage.
People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of knee problems. While there is no single diet to follow for healthy knees, copious research supports the avoidance of inflammatory foods that may trigger joint pain.
In this issue, we present some easy-to-implement lifestyle suggestions that could help reduce pain and make your knees feel younger and stronger.
Common Habits That Cause Knee Pain
Lack of Exercise
Exercise strengthens the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the knee joint. When these tissues are strong, they act like a brace that protects the joint and eases pressure. The knee joint is surrounded by the synovial membrane, which produces a lubricating fluid that allows your bones to move past one another more smoothly.
Lack of physical activity reduces circulation of the fluid and negatively affects blood circulation throughout your body. Conversely, with regular physical activity, the synovial membrane is exposed to a steady supply of nourishing oxygenand nutrients.
Poor posture is at the root of most joint pain. For good posture, work on building strong core muscles in your abdomen and lower back. When your skeleton is correctly aligned, your weight is evenly distributed and thus your joints are not stressed.
A proper five-minute warmup increases flexibility and blood flow to a given area, thereby diminishing the chance of a muscle pull and joint pain. What feels fine in the moment can cause post-workout pain. Your whole body, including your muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, and cartilage, needs to ease into exercise.
Cold, Wind & Dampness
TCM theory holds that wind, cold and dampness can invade the body and disrupt the flow of qi (energy), potentially causing stiffness and pain in the joints. Dress in layers, and keep your feet warm and dry with thick socks and quality footwear.
Every pound in excess of your healthy weight puts three to six extra pounds of pressure on your knees each and every time you take a step.
If you are overweight, losing even a few pounds can reduce stress on your knees. In fact, people with arthritic knees are able to lose about 20 percent of their pain with every 10 pounds of weight they drop.
Significant strain is put on the shin muscles by high heels, resulting in pain in the knees and legs. To make matters worse, the extra height of heels can cause shortening of the calf muscles.
Supportive and comfortable shoes help take pressure off the knee joint by promoting proper leg alignment and balance. Investing in good footwear for your specific activity can prevent injury and pain, saving you from having to invest time and money in treatment down the road.
Purine-Rich & Cold Food
Consuming a diet packed with purines can lead to the production of uric acid, which in turn can lead to painful attacks of gout. Avoid beer and shellfish, which are purine-rich. Consume foods lower in purine content such as eggs, fruits and vegetables (except spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, and mushrooms).
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, excessive intake of cold foods and drinks is also likely to increase the body’s dampness and cause knee pain. Avoid overconsuming raw, cold, sweet, and rich food and downing too many icy beverages, including cold water. Drink room-temperature or warm water.