Protect Your Knees
By Guang Xiao & Alisa
Don’t take your knees for granted. Follow the tips below to keep these hardworking joints strong and flexible.
Choose Comfortable Shoes
When it comes to selecting new shoes, pay attention to the following:
1. The soles should not be too hard as hard soles create additional pressure on the knees.
2. It is best to limit the height of the heels to three centimeters.
3. The shoes must fit well to provide sufficient support and slip resistance. When trying on new shoes, look out for the ones which are well-cushioned. Also, ensure the tips of the shoes do not pinch your toes, and the heels should be snug against your ankles when you take a step.
Keep Your Knees Warm
As the areas around the knees consist of very little fat, it is important to keep them warm.
Wear suitable clothing:
As temperatures start to fall in autumn, winds get colder and harsher. In order to protect your knees from the cold weather, dress in thick leggings and socks and even wear suitable knee pads when necessary. During the warmer months, air conditioning can take its toll. Be sure to keep your joints well covered when spending time in air-conditioned environments.
Apply heating pads:
Applying heating pads to the knees encourages blood circulation and reduces pain. Alternatively, boil water with ginger. Soak clean towels in the warm ginger water and squeeze them dry. Press them to the knee joints; do this two to three times a day. It is important to note that heat should not be applied to the knees just afterexercise or if they are inflamed.
Benefits of soaking your feet:
Cold air can enter through the soles of our feet, affecting the knees. Soaking the feet frequently helps to rid cold and dampness. Prepare a basin with sufficient depth; the water level should reach the calves. Ensure that the water is comfortably hot. While you soak your feet, keep your knees covered with a towel.
To boost the effectiveness of your footbath, add slices of raw ginger, peppercorn or the white stalks of spring onions into the water. However, do not soak the feet if the knees are inflamed.
Massage the Knees
Massaging your knees regularly helps to relax nerves and enhances blood circulation; it improves muscle tone and the flexibility of hamstring nerve vessels. Massage also reduces wear and tear onthe joints and mitigates knee pain.
Relaxing the kneecap (patella):
Choose a comfortable sitting position with both legs stretched straight. With palms placed on the kneecaps, push the kneecaps gently to the right and then to the left, staying slightly longer in the direction in which it is easier to push. After stimulating the left and right sides, try to push the kneecaps up, down and diagonally. The push in each direction should be repeated multiple times, gradually enhancing the range of kneecap motion.
Massage painful areas:
If the areas behind the knees and on the sides hurt when massaged, it indicates that the meridian system is blocked. Getting it unblocked requires frequent massaging; the pressure exerted should be from light to heavy and each sore area massaged for about a minute.
Massage three acupuncture points:
Massage the following acupuncture points regularly: The Zu San Li (four-finger-widths down from the kneecap, along the outer boundary of the shinbone); Xue Hai (located in the inner thigh, three-finger-widths above the kneecap in the muscle depression); and Wei Zhong (located behind the kneecap). You should feel a slight soreness when massaging the points.
Exercise to Strengthen
Appropriate exercise can decrease the effects of wear and tear on your knees. Besides warming up before working out, it is also important to select an appropriate form of exercise.
Avoid exercises which harm the knees
Avoid frequent running, hiking rugged terrain, step aerobics, vertical marathons, deep squats, and other forms of exercise which put excessive pressure on the knees. Instead, choose gentler knee-friendly workouts such as walking on a supportive surface (not concrete), swimming or water walking.
Practice Energy Bagua
If you wish to elevate your energy levels in a short period of time, walk Energy Bagua. It replenishes energy and promotes strong and healthy knees. In Bodhi Meditation Centers all over the world, many dedicated practitioners of Energy Bagua have reduced or eliminated knee pain. They regained their health, and are now able to squat, sit and walk in comfort.
Daily exercises to improve your knees
With your feet and shoulders parallel, legs straight and back against the wall, bend your knees slowly as if you are sitting on an invisible chair. If you are new to the exercise, retain the position for a minute and progressively increase the time as you get stronger. Pay attention that you do not bend too low so as not to hurt your knees; the angle between your thighs and calves should be 90 degrees or more.
Sit on a chair. Ensure that your torso is upright and tighten your abdominal muscles; slowly lift your left leg and stretch it out straight, parallel to the ground. Hold the position for three seconds, then return to the original position. Repeat with the right leg.
Sit on a chair, occupying only one-third of the space at the front of the seat with your left leg straight, the back of your foot against the floor with the toes pointing upward. Rest both hands lightly on your knees. Maintain the position for 30 seconds then repeat the exercise with the right leg.
One of the best things you can do to minimize joint pain and prevent further damage is to perform moderate exercise so your muscles, bones and joints can become strong and stable. Walking, swimming, cycling, and other low-impact activities can lessen your joint pain and prevent or quell arthritis. If you suspect that you might be suffering from a knee problem, be sure to check with your doctor to get a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment.