It’s a given: we all want to stay healthy and active into our golden years. One of the biggest barriers to that goal is how we pay attention to our health daily. Following a balanced diet and lifestyle that includes moving every day are important; but you also need to know what is normal.
This month we’re talking knees. Your knees are a weight-bearing joint that works like a hinge and facilitates most whole body movements. The knees normally work in flexion and extension. They don’t have much range of motion outside that. As long as the “hinge” is moving properly, all is well. However improper alignment in the ankle/foot or hip, places strain on the knees that throws the hinge movement off and shows up as knee joint pain, which may progress to osteoarthritis or even knee surgery.
What to look for?
For signs of knee joint concerns, take a good long look at yourself in a full-length mirror. Check out the position of your knees in relation to your feet and hips.
- Do you knees bow out, like a cowboy’s knees?
- Are you knock kneed or do your knees touch when standing at rest?
- Do your feet splay out, like a giraffe drinking water?
- Are your knees hyper mobile – you often stand and lock your knees pushing them into a backward position?
These resting knee positions are your first warning signs: these are all unhealthy positions for your knees. Over time, wear and tear injury is possible. However, if you notice any of the following take note… it is past time for action.
- Clicking in your knees when you are walking or going from sitting to standing
- Your knees lock in place without effort
- Your knee movements feel unstable
- Knee pain
- Swelling of the knee joint with or without knee pain
So, you want your knees to go the distance
What can you do to maintain healthy knees now? Good treatment is one thing; but the real secret is prevention. To keep your joints healthy:
- Move every day. You need full-body and weight bearing activities. Walking, running, yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and swimming are excellent choices. Your joints should move smoothly in good alignment through your favourite activity. You might ask: but what is best? Research suggests that any exercise you enjoy that you will actually do is best for you. Just move!
- Pay attention to your sitting position. Your head, shoulders and hips are properly aligned in a healthy sitting position, your feet should rest on the floor and your knees should be at a right angle. This matters because improper sitting sets you up for hip dysfunction and the knees often bear the strain in this instance.
Some things to watch for:
If you’ve had a previous knee injury, take extra care with how you sit and move all day. Prior injuries like ligament tears, meniscus, ACL or even knee surgery leave your knees vulnerable and prone to re-injury.
If your knees pain or if you notice any misalignment in your standing position, seek help from your physiotherapist right away. If you’re dealing with an alignment concern, starting corrective exercise early can prevent long-standing knee injury. If you are hurting now, getting started on the healing process as soon as possible prevents serious intervention later. If knee surgery is in your future, therapy before the surgery can help speed the healing process.
You may want to know why we incorporate laser therapy into many of our physiotherapy treatments. Bioflex laser therapy is a safe, healing light treatment. It stimulates injured tissue at the cellular level and triggers an accelerated healing response. The benefits to you are reduced swelling, inflammation and pain along with increased range of motion. When your joints are achy and hot, it is hard to learn exercises properly. Adding laser means your joints are well on their way to healing by the time we add exercise and manual therapy. That is the laser advantage.
If you have any questions please send them our way. Our physiotherapists offer FREE 15 minute consults to help you understand your treatment options and how we can help you.
Check out our fantastic articles. You’ll learn simple strategies that will give you relief and help you build a healthy body and mind.