With the weather in Coquitlam getting nicer, people are moving back outside to enjoy the sunny days and get more physically active. Before you go all out getting back into shape for the summer months, you need to prepare your body – and especially your knees – to avoid knee pain and knee injury.
Harvard Health Publishing states, “Your knees absorb a huge amount of pressure with every step – typically one-and-a-half times your body weight. That pressure, plus regular wear and tear, takes a toll over time. Muscles and ligaments get weaker. The knee’s two shock absorbers – pads of cartilage called menisci – start to deteriorate. So does the articular cartilage protecting the ends of the leg bones where they meet at the knee. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, if you’re overweight, or if you’ve had some knee injuries, you may be more prone to this deterioration.”
But all is not lost. There are things you can do to keep your knees in good working condition.
7 strategies physiotherapist, Ghasem Sokhanvar, at Westwood Total Health in Coquitlam recommends to keep moving and avoid knee pain:
1. Assessing Underlying Injuries
Are you currently experiencing knee pain? Being aware of your body’s current condition is important before starting a new exercise routine or increasing your physical activity for the summer. If you notice knee discomfort, the best thing to do is to get it checked by a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist. A preventative check-up can avoid future injuries.
2. Warming Up
Before performing any activity or sport, it’s important to warm up the muscles and joints to avoid injury. For example, if you’re going for a run, a good way to warm-up is to do five to ten minutes of walking. You can also warm up with a bike using low resistance for five to ten minutes. Warm-up activities can differ depending on the type of workout, but your main goal with a warm-up should be to prepare your body properly for the workout.
3. Performing Strengthening Exercises
To avoid knee pain and injuries, the muscles around the knee joint should be strong enough to handle the stress of everyday life. Here are some good strengthening exercises for the knees:
Straight Leg Raise
1. Lie down on a mat with both of your legs bent.
2. Straighten one leg out and lift it until it’s level with the other leg. Hold for three seconds and return to the starting position.
3. Repeat 10 times then switch to the other leg.
Note. If this exercise is too challenging, start with knee extensions. Sit on a chair with your legs in a 90-degree angle. Straighten one leg out and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 10 times then switch to the other leg.
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Using a wall to support you, bend one knee until it’s in a 90-degree angle. Hold for 3 seconds and slowly lower your foot down back to the floor.
3. Repeat 10 times then switch to the other leg.
Bodyweight Wall Squats
1. Stand about two feet away from a wall.
2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and lean against the wall.
3. Lower yourself down slowly until your knees are in a 90-degree angle. Make sure to not let your knees go past your toes. Hold for 5 seconds.
4. Slowly stand back up
5. Repeat 10 times in a controlled manner.
1. Stand facing a wall.
2. Place your hands against the wall for support.
3. Slowly stand up on your toes. Hold for 3 – 5 seconds.
4. Lower your feet slowly back down to the floor.
5. Repeat 10 times.
An Exercise to avoid.
Avoid doing deep squats, especially if you’ve just started to increase your physical activity. Deep squats can put unnecessary stress on your menisci and knee joint. This can increase your risk of injury, which is exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve.
4. Doing Low Impact Sports
Low impact sports are a good way to continue being active. Low impact sports pose a lower risk of injury to the knees compared to high impact sports. Some examples of good low impact sports are swimming, cycling and rowing. These can provide you a good workout without the stress on your knees.
5. Purchasing Custom Fit Orthotics
You may be wondering how orthotics can affect your knees. The way your feet contact the ground is essential to the alignment of your knees and how much stress is put on your knee joints. Every person is different, so it’s best to customize your shoes according to your feet.
6. Keep Weight Under Control
Harvard Health states that knees typically absorb one-and-a-half times your body weight. This means that keeping your weight under control is an important factor in preventing knee injuries. Having excessive weight puts unnecessary pressure on your knees, which can lead to injuries.
7. Maintain Proper Posture
A proper posture ensures that your body is in correct alignment. This affects the distribution of weight on your knees and feet. Maintaining proper posture is also better for your overall health.
Long Term Consequences of Knee Injuries
The importance of these 7 top strategies cannot be emphasized enough. Without these strategies, you could be at risk of:
- Chronic Pain
Without proper treatment of a knee injury, there is a risk of chronic pain. Having chronic pain can prevent you from doing things that you love.
It’s best to not leave a knee injury unchecked. Physiotherapy can help you manage chronic pain and improve your day-to-day life.
- Decreased Range of Motion
The knee can bend, extend and rotate. Knee injuries can significantly decrease a person’s range of motion. Restrictions in range of motion can make living life on a daily basis more difficult. Simple activities such as walking, standing, sitting, and going up and down the stairs may not be as manageable for someone with a decreased range of motion in the knee.
Knee instability can be caused by a variety of factors, such as muscle weakness or an underlying injury. Clicking or popping sounds in the knee may indicate knee instability. Without intervention, instability can lead to more severe injuries in the knee.
Arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joints. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This can develop in the knee joint from continuous wearing and tearing over time, damaging the cushion that prevents your thigh bone from rubbing directly on to your shin bone. Symptoms of osteoarthritis such as pain, grinding sensations, and reduced range of motion can be alleviated with physiotherapy. It’s best to address arthritis early on to prevent it from getting worse.
Whatever health goal you may have, it is crucial to make sure your body is healthy and functioning properly to be able to handle the demands of increased activity. If you are starting any exercise program, always consult with a qualified health professional first. A physiotherapist can help you identify any issues on your knees that may need addressing.
About Westwood Health’s Physiotherapist
With more than 20 years experience working in different public and clinical settings as a physiotherapist, Ghasem Sokhanvar has been able to combine multiple strategies in treating his clients and helping them to achieve their goals. This includes treatment for rotator cuff repair, ACL reconstruction, joint replacement, pinched and tight nerves, as well as a variety of sports injuries, including tear or strained muscles and sprained ligaments/joints.
Ghasem’s treatment philosophy centers on the restoration of biomechanics through soft tissue and joint manipulation, graded joint mobilization, IMS, dry needling, acupuncture and therapeutic exercise. He believes in correcting movement abnormalities that hinder proper function and posture by use of an evidence-based approach to manual therapy, modified for each individual.
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Westwood Total Health is a busy, award-winning chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage therapy clinic and has been providing health and wellness care to families in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody since 2006. Through our quality care and patient education, we have become one of the busiest clinics in the province. Since 2013, we have consistently been voted favourite natural health clinic by readers of the Tri-City News.
The goal at Westwood Total Health is to improve spinal and body alignment and function, which promotes overall health. At Westwood Total Health our mission is to make the Tri-Cities the healthiest community in the country. Won’t you join us?