Medically reviewed by Dr. Rodney Alan, McLeod Orthopaedics
“Pssst.” “Down here.” “Listen carefully.” “I need your help to keep us both out of trouble.” A bit overly dramatic for sure. Our knees don’t talk. But if we don’t treat them right, in time we may not be able to ignore our knees, whether they talk or not. “Knee joint replacements are soaring, especially among younger people between 45 and 60,” says McLeod Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Rodney Alan. “And while total joint replacements are some of the most successful surgeries performed, it’s important to do what you can to make your original knees last as long as possible.”
Here are some important points to remember:
WEIGHT is BAD. For every pound you weigh, your poor knees feel like it’s 3 to 5 pounds when you walk. Weight loss is one sure way to slow down deterioration of your knees. Try to reach and maintain a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or lower. Find out your BMI.
EXERCISE is GOOD. It may seem counter intuitive. But exercises can help strengthen the muscles, which support the knee. Moderate exercise – dancing, cycling, vigorous walking, gentle jogging – helps stimulate thickening of cartilage, the lubricating tissue between the knee joint’s bones. Stretching type exercise keeps the joint flexible and loose.
RUNNING may be VERY GOOD. A number of studies have followed regular runners – those who run 5 to10 miles a week. One study at Stanford University found that 20 percent of the runners develop osteoarthritis, the most common cause of knee problems, while 32% of NON-runners developed the problem. Another study of 90,000 runners found that those who topped 7 miles a week were 20% less likely to develop osteoporosis and 35% less likely to need a hip joint replacement. Serious runners – those who do more than 50 miles a week – also reduced rates of osteoporosis.
There is an obvious connection between running and weight control, because most runners burn lots of calories and can better control their BMI.
FINAL THOUGHT. Start exercising to preserve healthy knees. If you already have knee joint pain every day or your mobility is limited, see an Orthopedic Specialist about your diagnosis and treatment options.
Find an Orthopedic Specialist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Arthritis Foundation, National Athletic Trainers Association, Natures Review: Rheumatology, Radiological Society of America.