Protecting the largest joint in our bodies

Which one is it?  The knee – the strongest but also the hardest working joint in our bodies. It plays a crucial role in sitting, standing, running and any vertical movement.  Unfortunately most of us have experienced knee pain and injury at some stage. Here are our top tips to keeping your knees healthy.

  1. Don’t ignore pain

If you have knee pain the sooner you have it assessed the quicker you can begin a plan of treatment. Physical therapy can frequently treat the problem and thus avoiding painful surgery.

  1. Strengthen key muscles

By strengthening the large muscles surrounding the knee joint we create more stability and thus less chance of injury. Try these straightforward exercises to strengthen the quads, glutes and hamstrings.

Wall sit: Stand about ½ a metre away from the wall and lean your back to the wall. Slowly slide down the wall until you’re in a sitting position. Adjust feet to ensure they are positioned under your knees. Hold here for as long as comfortable, repeat. Increase the length of time you hold the position.

Bridges: Lie on your back, knees to the ceiling, feet below your knees and facing forward. Slowly start to lift the hips off the floor until you’re resting on your shoulder blades. Hold, lower to the floor, rest and repeat.

  1. Lose excess weight

This is not one we want to hear, however excess weight will place additional strain on your knee joints. Enough said.

  1. Reduce the impact

If you’re a runner consider a change to a softer surface or mix it up with a run/walk combo. Try a low impact, high intensity exercise such as Barre to give you the same cardio benefits while protecting your joints. Remember to take time to warm-up and stretch after exercise.

  1. Reduce inflammation

We know that inflammation can increase knee pain and slow recovery. Certain foods and spices can help to reduce this inflammation. Look out for foods containing flavanol, found in apples, onions and green tea. You’ll also find high levels of anti-inflammatory properties in cumin, ginger, turmeric and capsicum. Increase your cold-water fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines to benefit from increased levels of omega 3.