6 Tips for Keeping Your Knees Healthy and Happy

Sports injuries are very common in the United States. Orthopedic problems send millions of people to sports medicine experts every year. In 2006, nearly 7.5 million adults sought medical help for shoulder problems such as sprains and strains. Many Americans also suffer from knee injuries. The number of people who have total knee replacements has doubled in the last ten years. Approximately 600,000 people undergo that procedure every year. While an artificial knee will not last forever, most people can go 15 or 20 years with one before it starts to give them any trouble. There are ways to protect your joints from needing any surgery. If you want to keep your knee healthy and happy without needing any kind of operation such as a replacement,arthroscopic knee surgery or ACL surgery, follow these tips.

  1. Keep your weight down. Losing just a few pounds means you put a lot less stress on your knees. For every extra pound you weigh, you add four pounds of pressure to your knee joints.
  2. Keep your thighs strong and healthy. To keep your knees happy, work on the muscles that support them. If your hip abductors are in great shape, your knees will be well protected from injuries such as the ones the end up requiring ACL surgery. These muscles absorb the stress and strain from when you walk, run or do anything else that is weight bearing. Work exercises that strengthen your inner thighs into your daily workout routine and your knees will thank you for it.
  3. Be careful on stairs. Running up and down stairs can be horrible for your knees. When you run down the stairs, you can put as much as 600 pounds of pressure on your knee joints. This does not mean you should never take the stairs, it can be a great way to add some movement to your day but walk, do not run.
  4. Be careful about what surfaces you walk or run on. Running on pavement can be hard on your knees but walking on uneven surfaces like cobblestones is not great either. Take a well worn path rather than rocks or slippery grass. Even the most fit person can trip on a poorly placed or broken step.
  5. If you bike, set your seat to the right level. Biking is a great exercise to protect your knees from too much stress while getting a great workout. Make sure your seat is set to fully extend your leg when the pedal is at the lowest point. This will make sure you are working the right muscles and avoid putting unnecessary stress on your knee joint.
  6. Be careful when doing lunges and squats. These can be great exercises but you can strain your knees. When doing them, keep your foot aligned below your knee and do not bend the knee beyond the 90 degree point. This can help ensure you do not injure yourself while doing lunges and squats.

Please note that women are more likely to suffer a knee injury that can result in needing ACL surgery. Orthopedic experts point to a strength imbalance that often happens in women. Often women’s quadriceps (the muscle at the front of the thigh) is stronger than their hamstrings (the muscle at the back). Because of this, women can overextend their ACL and end up injuring it.  Women who work out a lot should work on strengthening all of their leg, hip and torso muscles to prevent this imbalance.

Most people can avoid a trip to the orthopedic surgeon by being careful. If you do suffer a knee or other injury, you can do things at home to prevent needing ACL surgery. or any operation. A common thing doctors tell people to do is rely on the RICE acronym. That stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. If you notice a lot of pain and/ or swelling, talk to your doctor. Any time you cannot put any weight on a joint, call your physician and ask about making an appointment or going to an urgent care facility. There are a lot of things your doctor can recommend before opting for surgery to repair or replace a joint. Many injuries heal on their own with rest.

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