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Six Exercise-Related Tips to Prevent Future Knee Problems

By Brian Acton

Knee problems are an ever-present reality for millions of Americans, especially for older people whose knees have seen a lifetime’s worth of wear and tear. But knee problems can occur in younger adults as well, especially among the overweight and very active. Strenuous exercise - like team sports - is often associated with knee problems. But there are many exercise-related strategies you can implement to reduce your risk of knee pain and knee problems as you get older.  Here are six exercise-related ways to prevent future knee problems. Maintain a Healthy Weight Extra weight can lead to a variety of knee problems and increase your chances of developing osteoarthritis. The heavier you are, the more pressure you put on your knees every time you take a step. Shedding pounds or maintaining a healthy weight will put less stress on your knees and help them stay healthy. Build Leg Strength The muscles surrounding your knee can provide support and do take off some of the pressure as you run, jump, and climb stairs. But to provide support, your surrounding muscles must be sufficiently powerful. Strong quads, hamstrings and calves can make a huge difference in the amount of pressure put on your knees. Both aerobic exercises and weight training can strengthen leg muscles; if you need advice on how to best build up your leg strength, consult a physician and/or physical trainer. Warm Up Before Workouts If you’re committed to building leg strength and maintaining a healthy weight, you may be hitting the gym or the great outdoors to get in some workouts. Make sure you’re warming up, stretching and engaging in light exercise, before you go full throttle. Warming up properly will reduce your risk of injury. Gradually Increase Workout Intensity Don’t suddenly increase the intensity of your exercise without giving your body time to adjust. This is a common cause of injury. Instead, build up your workout intensity gradually to avoid knee pain and other injuries. Use Low Impact Exercise if Necessary It’s commonly said that high impact exercise like running puts a lot of wear and tear on your knees, leading to future knee issues.  This isn’t necessarily true, as some studies have found that frequent runners are no more likely to have arthritis than non-runners. However, if you are already overweight or have bad knees, you may wish to stick to low impact exercise. Swimming, rowing, and elliptical workouts are all fantastic options to break a sweat without affecting your knees. Wear Protection If you have a job that’s tough on your knees or play sports such as roller-skating or soccer, make sure to wear knee pads. Knee pads act as shock absorbers and cushion the impact that occurs when your knee comes into contact with a hard surface. In Closing Your knees may feel great today, but that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable forever. There’s no guarantee that you’re safe from knee problems later in life. Done properly, exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and protect your knees, reducing your risk of knee problems as you get older.   Sources: http://www.everydayhealth.com/knee-pain/why-knee-pain-worsens-with-age.aspx http://www.livestrong.com/article/167912-importance-of-knee-pads/
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