Tag Archives: #knees

Snap, crackle, pop …

17 Sep

No, its not your favorite kids cereal, crying out for help from drowning in a deep bath of lactose or non-lactose.  It’s my knees … having a discussion about how they’d like to leave.

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It all started six years ago. I was coming down the stairs, “OH, my … are those your knees making that sound?” I had honestly never really noticed the sound of light crunching, but it seemed it was loud enough for others to pick up.

“Yeah.  They make that sound when I go down stairs.”

“You better start taking some kind of supplement or something, or you’re not going to have knees left.”

And so, the fear struck me: What shall I do to save my knees! I was not about having any type of surgery and getting some sort of a bionic knee replacement. NO thank you.  But would that mean I would stop running? Absolutely not. I ‘d have to find and destroy all antagonizers of my knees and be sure to be as good to them as possible.

But I was only in my 20s … how did things get so bad so quickly?

As outlined on http://www.sharecare.com, there are few things you might be doing every day and not even realizing you could be doing damage:

1. How much weight are you carrying?

Your knees bear the brunt of your body weight, so it’s crucial that you maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Every extra pound you carry adds up to 3 pounds of pressure on your knee joints when you walk, and 10 pounds when you run. So, if your BMI is 25 or more, you may be compromising the health of your knees. In fact, obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis because it speeds the breakdown of cartilage. Dropping extra weight — particularly body fat — may be the single most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of developing a serious knee problem. In a study reviewed by the National Institutes of Health, overweight people who lost an average of 11 pounds cut their risk of osteoarthritis in half.

2. Are you exercising?

Regular exercise is essential to maintaining knee strength. Without it, your muscles weaken, leaving your joints without ample support and leaving your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints vulnerable to misalignment.

Your best bet is to choose activities with a low risk of knee injury. A knee injury can double the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Daily moderate exercise is much better for your joints than occasional strenuous exercise. Focus on low-impact activities that build stamina, strength, and flexibility, such as yoga, walking, biking, swimming, and weight lifting. These types of exercise can help enhance circulation, improve your range of motion, and build the muscles that surround the knee joints. One study revealed that a relatively small increase in quadriceps strength (20%–25%) can lead to a 20%–30% decrease in the chance of developing knee osteoarthritis. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.

Knee-Friendly Exercises

  • Water workouts provide low-impact resistance and add a strength-training aspect to aerobic exercises such as walking or jogging.
  • T’ai chi can help increase your range of motion, lengthen your muscles, and make your ligaments and tendons more resilient.
  • Isometric exercises and yoga strengthen core body muscles as well as leg muscles that support the knee.

3. Are you overusing some muscles and joints?

Staying active is one of the best things you can do to protect your knees, but you should avoid repetitive strain on muscles and joints. For example, repeatedly engaging in the same activity — whether for work, recreation, or exercise — may loosen tendons or damage cartilage and eventually lead to injuries and possibly even arthritis.

Determining if you are overusing a joint requires listening to your body. When you feel pain or discomfort during or after exercise, household chores, or other activities, don’t ignore it. Take a break and consider ceasing the activity altogether until you can perform it without pain. In the meantime, stay active by focusing on other activities that do not stress the injured joint. If the pain does not go away in 2 weeks, see your healthcare provider.

To help avoid overuse injuries, spend 5–10 minutes warming up before you exercise and another 5–10 minutes cooling down afterward.

4. Is your body properly aligned?

Just as driving a car when the wheels are out of alignment causes the tires to wear irregularly, the same principle holds true for your knees. If your body is not properly aligned, your muscles, joints, and ligaments take more strain than they are able to endure healthfully.

Here are some general principles of correct standing posture:

  • Your back is straight. Don’t slump forward at the shoulders or waist.
  • Your knees are slightly bent – they should not be locked.
  • Your abdominal muscles are tight – gently suck in your stomach.
  • Your head is centered over your body. Check yourself in the mirror from side to side.
  • Your weight is evenly distributed between your feet. Do not jut one hip out to the side.

A physical therapist can help you assess your biomechanics and teach you proper standing, sitting, walking, running, and lifting techniques that can help spare your joints from extra wear and tear.

5. Are you wearing the right shoes?

Shoes that cause your body weight to be unevenly distributed place extra stress on your knee joints. In addition to avoiding obviously uncomfortable or impractical shoes that can throw your stride off and stress your knees, you also should consider a visit to a specialty store if you have special anatomical considerations. As they say, nobody’s perfect. Flat or rigid arches, uneven leg length, and bowed legs are fairly common in the general population, and each can contribute to an awkward stride and put pressure on your knees. Consider purchasing at least one of your main pairs of shoes or sneakers at a specialty store where the staff can advise you on which shoes provide the appropriate support for your foot and body type. Before you go, consider a visit with a podiatrist. He or she can help diagnose any additional foot concerns, such as overpronation orsupination, and prescribe orthotic inserts that go into your shoes and correct your gait.

High-heeled shoes might add to the risk of osteoarthritis or other knee problems: A Harvard University study found that women who wear high heels have stress across the part of the knee where osteoarthritis usually develops.

So, from being overweight or from literally carrying too much weight, you can be doing damage! I felt a weight on my chest that began to sink. Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like it’s almost better to just not do anything and revert back to 19th century ideals of lightly walking and lounging on fainting couches.
knees But aside from my pouting, I started to compile that serious seek-and-destory-knee-enmy list. Below was my preliminary list:

HIGH heels–

I have never really been a fan of the Stiletto, or in my case, the no-name, off brand, thin-healed but very tall and pointy shoe.  I’m short, and on occasion I liked to wear a pair for a moment. But I’m also fat with stubby legs, so I’ve found that particular kind of heal not super flattering.

Regardless, I took them out of my line-up for good. I went to platform wedges–something that evened out the amount of stress and weight distribution on my pronator from heel to toe.  Done.

Stairs–

Well, very few ways to get around these, but here’s my method–slow and low (like bar-b-q, except less satisfying). I refused to rush up or down, and pound any longer, pass me on the LEFT  people (seriously), I’m using the hand rail.

Weight–

I will NO LONGER make ONE trip from my car to the door with all my packages or grocery bags. I suppose I will have to depend on the kindness of strangers and make some nice, young, strapping man carry the heavier things, and I suppose I won’t be able to do weighted squats past 50lbs (darn).

Also, I had to drop about 10lbs stat to stay in the safe zone for BMI.

These were the things I believed I could control, but what about those I couldn’t, like wet floors, and black ice, and small children on sleds? How does one prepare for the end or degeneration of a body part? You don’t, you prepare for the preservation and concentrate on that alone for as long as possible.

To be honest, there were LOTS of sites with tons of warm and fuzzy tips on how to treat yourself best, but this guy … this guy on this site scared the bajesus out of me. ****Reader be WARNED, the page begins with a VERY GRAPHIC photo of  one the consequences of not taking care of your knees–surgery–but the tips were AMAZING!

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/18_tips_for_bulletproof_knees

18 Tips for Bulletproof Knees (he wrote “bulletproof” for a reason people)– I’m going to list the ones I like below. Follow the link above for all 18:

1) Purchase some knee sleeves.

     And I thought “DUH” after reading this, protection is key.

3) Want healthy knees? Focus on ankle and hip mobility!

     Truth, truth, truth. A couple of years ago, when I was having hip issues, I read a Runner’s World article that listed ankle and knee exercises, and after routinely doing them … all better.

6) Get some balance in your training.

     It’s NOT just for old people.

7) Stop pain provoking activities!

     Dump the ex, stretch, pay your bills on time, call your mother (or stop?) … you get the idea.

12) Get your body in proper alignment!

     It’s NOT just for old people … or cars.

15) Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

And the list goes on! This guy has years of experience and explains everything in detail and language anyone can understand. He provides pictures and tips that you can use right away and links to other sites for more research. Number 15 there gives me a great way to transition to my next point–diet and supplements.

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As for diet, like listed above, eating a diet that supports the body’s productions and regulations (i.e. an anti-inflammatory diet) is key to a long, happy life.  According to http://www.healtline.com, “Inflammation produces free radicals, the cell-damaging molecules that are formed in response to toxins and natural bodily processes. The synovium (the cushion between knee joints) is as prone to free radical damage as the skin, eyes, or any other body tissue. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals.” Therefore, eating a diet rich in antioxidants may help prevent damage from occurring to the body tissue. In fact, “research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Clinical Rheumatology has shown that certain antioxidants may help prevent arthritis, slow its progression, and relieve pain. Being at a healthy weight is a critical component to managing Osteoarthritis of the knees.” (http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/osteoarthritis-diet#2)

Below are food suggested from the article to include in your diet:

  • tropical fruits like papaya, guava, and pineapple
  • citrus like oranges and grapefruit
  • cantaloupe
  • strawberries
  • kiwi
  • raspberries
  • cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and kale
  • bell peppers
  • tomatoes
  • seafood like wild-caught salmon, cod, sardines, and shrimp
  • fortified milk
  • eggs
  • cruciferous veggies like kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, mustard greens, and chard
  • sweet potatoes
  • winter squash
  • cantaloupe
  • greens like Romaine lettuce and spinach
  • parsley
  • apricots
  • peppermint leaves
  • tomatoes
  • asparagus
  • salmon (wild, fresh or canned)
  • herring
  • mackerel (not king)
  • sardines
  • anchovies
  • rainbow trout
  • Pacific oysters
  • omega-3-fortified eggs
  • flaxseed (ground andoil)
  • walnuts
  • onions (red, yellow, white)
  • kale
  • leeks
  • cherry tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • blueberries
  • black currants
  • lingonberries
  • cocoa powder
  • green tea
  • apricots
  • apples (with skin)

They list spices and whatnot, but more importantly list the letter supplements and nutrients needed in each food. Worth the read.????????????????????????????????????????????????????

To review, there’s not much we can do to change our genetics. My grandfather had bad knees, my mom has bad knees, and I will have some issues to look out for, but there are many options with the advent of advance science and nutrition to prevent suffering like they did. If I LOVE to run (even on days when I don’t), why not attempt to make the time I have doing it as comfortable as possible?

Be kind to you, your joints, and the stairs … easy on the stairs. Find a nice man to carry you if possible…images

Get that woman a cup of coffee and she’s set for the day.

Other be-kind-to-your-knees websites:

http://beta.active.com/walking/articles/6-ways-to-keep-your-knees-pain-free

http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-01-2010/keep_your_knees_healthy.html

http://www.parade.com/health/slideshows/fitness/keep-your-knees-healthy.html#?slideindex=0

http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/osteoarthritis/articles/how_to_keep_your_knees_healthy.aspx

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