Wouldn’t you love to get some relief? Let’s look at the knees.
What do knees mean to you?
In toddlers they are a vital bridge between being horizontal and being upright. When we start to crawl, the knees propel us forward, along with our hands. When learning the skills of walking, we often tumble onto our knees. They bleed, they bruise, they recover quickly.
In young adulthood the shape of our knees may be a focus of attractiveness for some or a source of shame for others. They later become a sign of decline in our ageing bodies. The knees endure a lot of stress during our life and they repay us with wear and tear, pain, decreasing mobility, and then we might look to knee replacement surgery for relief.
Knee surgery goes through the roof
In recent years there has been a massive increase in knee replacement surgery In just sever years (2010 – 2017) it increased by 30% in the UK(*) What could account for this rise? There seem to be 3 main areas of knee damage increase: 1) lack of activity 2) excess weight and 3) too much high impact activity – yet none of these reasons seem to explain the sharp increase in knee surgery in such a short interval. Another factor is that surgery is being done earlier than previously because better materials mean they last longer. But is knee replacement surgery always the solution, I wonder. Can we take better care of our bodies so they continue to serve us well?
Sitting for long periods is bad news for the whole body, and especially for the knees. Although we think we are relaxing in a chair, it’s actually a stressful position that nature didn’t intend for hours on end. However much vigorous exercise we do, it does not compensate for the hours sitting, so if you sit a lot, best get up and move frequently, perhaps to make a cup of tea, dance around to the radio, or do a little light dusting!
2) Excess weight:
Each pound of excess weight equates to 4 pounds extra pressure on the knee joint. So keeping to a good weight is highly advisable. I know this is not so simple for everyone and you may have specific obstacles to lose excess weight. If this applies to you, perhaps knowing about the pressure of weight on the knees boost your determination to slim, to relieve pain in the knees or reduce the likelihood of surgery.
3) High impact activity:
Perhaps surprisingly, one of the reasons for the increase on knees surgery is the high level of activity of the ‘baby-boomers’ who are now becoming older. Many of them have remained active since their youth – in a whole variety of ways not available to the ordinary folk of previous generations. This includes tennis, badminton, golf, many of which are high impact and over time can damage the knee joints. It’s the generation when many people realised the need to keep the body fit during their leisure time, as their work did not demand physical exertion. So injuries began to be more common.
Is it inevitable?
The good news is we can do a lot to look after our knees so they can continue to serve us well throughout life.
• Variety of non-impact or non-weight-bearing activity, such as walking, swimming, dancing. Walking is especially good and needs no equipment. It’s also great for enjoying the environment and getting sunlight to produce Vitamin D. Click here for tips for walking when you have painful knees.
• There are plenty of exercises on the internet which target the knees. Here are some examples to relieve osteoarthritis (the chief underlying condition for needing knee replacement).
• Slow fluid movements, such as tai chi or any intuitive dance
• Activity increases muscle strength, which in turn supports the joint; improves balance, which then facilitates more movement
• Cartilage stays healthy by being nourished by joint fluid. The only way joint fluid gets into the joints is by moving.
• Be kind to your knees! Rest is vital after vigorous exercise for recovery.
We can nourish our joints with richly nutritious foods, or we can impoverish them by relying on highly processed food. Good for joints: broccoli and other dark green vegetables. cherries, walnuts, red peppers, oatmeal, tumeric. More information here
SIMPLE MOVEMENT TIPS
• In standing, keep knees soft, i.e. not rigid. Rigid knees create unnecessary effort and shifts the pelvis too far forward so the body is out of alignment. With soft knees it’s easier to move about slightly while standing, which is easier on the body than standing still for long periods
• In walking, keep knees soft. There is no need to stretch the forward leg out in front of you, which makes a big impact through the heel on landing. Instead, move your whole body forward and land on slightly bent knee.
• Going up and down stairs, bend knees a little and lean slightly forward. This means the next step is closer so reaching the next step is easier and less scary
Keeping the knees soft in both standing and moving enables the knee to do its job as shock absorber. It helps keep the muscles around the knee stay active and the movement helps lubricate the joint.
Ways to Move can help.
What if you struggle to find the motivation on your own, or if you cannot access information on the internet or get to classes? I can come to you and help you bring movement into your life to improve your enjoyment and vitality. Contact me to discuss.
FROM MOBILITY SOLUTIONS
Are you experiencing pain or stiffness in your knees? Try these simple and gentle movements which might give you some relief (no guarantees of course).
• Find a table or a firm surface you can sit on, that has room underneath for you legs to swing.
• Let your leg swing to and fro (just like you may have done when you were a child).
• With the fingers of your two hands behind your worst leg just below the knee, flick your leg forward and let it swing with gravity. This is even better as the leg has absolutely no work to do, and is moving freely.
• Continue for a few minutes, then stand and make ordinary movements to note whether there is any change.
There are several more simple activities that may give you an immediate improvement to your knees.
Contact me about Mobility Solutions sessions