Hi, I have a question for you. Do your knees hurt most (or all) of the time?
Does knee pain keep you from doing things that you like or want to do?
Do you find yourself taking pain relievers regularly just to get through your day?
If so then you are not alone. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. OA is not only painful but it is also a leading cause of disability.
One of the hardest truths is that painful knees leads to reduced activity. Reduced activity leads to smaller and weaker leg muscles. Weaker legs means activities become even harder to do and knee pain gets worse.
It is a vicious downward spiral. If you have knee pain due to OA here are three things you should be doing right now.
Get Active – If you are not active then your easy lifestyle is likely one of the causes of your knee pain. “But I’m not active because my knees hurt” you might say. This is a tough Catch 22, but studies show that being inactive and especially sitting a lot actually accelerates cartilage degeneration in your knees. This happens because your cartilage gets its nourishment from movement. Movement causes fluid to flow in and out of your cartilage which keeps it healthy and strong. So get up and move, preferably in low or no impact ways such as cycling, swimming, elliptical or walking.
Lift Weights - Dozens of studies have shown that strength training significantly decreases painful symptoms of OA and increases function. This is probably the most important thing you can do to feel better and be able to do more.
Some of my favorite lower body exercises for those with OA include squats, lunges, leg press, deadlifts, leg curls, step ups and calf raises. Only go to the depth that feels comfortable for you. For some people trying to squat really low makes their pain worse so only move through a comfortable range of motion for you.
Keep the weight light to moderate so that you can perform 12-15 repetitions but no more. Pick a few exercises and start with 1 set and gradually increase to 2-3 sets of each exercise.
AVOID leg extension machines as they tend to hurt your knees rather than help them.
Lose Weight by Eating Better – If you are “overweight” then losing even
5-10% of your body weight can make a huge difference in how your knees feel.
You don’t have to get down to your high school weight or be able to fit into a size 2 dress (speaking to the ladies here). I’m not asking you to get lean or be able to show off six pack abs.
In fact, I would say don’t focus on your weight at all. Instead focus on eating an incredibly healthy diet and the weight will take care of itself.
I personally recommend that you try Whole 30 (www.whole30.com); the Mediterranean Diet; or the DASH diet (www.dashdiet.org) if you have hypertension.
Bottom Line: Follow these simple guidelines and you can do more with less pain than ever before!
If you would like help with either the nutrition or the fitness side of things, then I would encourage you to try out our Fit Body Forever Program available to you right here in Rockland. Our program helps clients train in a safe and fun environment in a program designed specifically for the older adult. Our 21-Day Program is a great way to see how improving your fitness and nutrition can greatly improve how you feel and move throughout the day. And we back it up with a 100% money back guarantee.