An Athletes Guide to Prevent Chronic Knee Pain

Knee PainIt might sound counter-intuitive, but often the best ways of avoiding chronic knee pain involve everything but the knee itself.

Knee pain when exercising is generally a byproduct of other problems, although of course certain exercises will strain a knee more than others.  Broadly speaking, knee injuries result from other parts of your body not doing their jobs correctly, leaving the knee to take more strain than it should.

Here are a few tips for avoiding chronic knee pain when you exercise.

STRETCH.

If you need yet another example of why you should always stretch before exercising, here’s more reason.  Properly stretching out your hamstring and hip abductor muscles before a workout will greatly reduce strain put on your knees.

Work your gluteus maximus

Many common knee injuries like ACL tears are often encouraged by poor tone in the major muscles around your hips and buttocks, especially the gluteus maximus.  When they’re weak, they cause your midsection to sag and your thighs to fall inward, putting additional downward pressure on the knee.  This, in turn, encourages injury.

Strengthen your core.

In much the same way, a weak core will also throw your legs off balance and introduce a lot of additional downwards force on your legs.  Virtually any core training from sit-ups to pilates will strengthen your abdomen so that it can do its share of the “heavy lifting,” keeping additional weight off your knees.

Wear flat-soled shoes.

Virtually any shoes with higher-than-normal heels, including many men’s boots, can put significantly more pressure on the knee.  They also keep the calf muscles tight.  This may look nice, but also contributes to knee pain by putting extra pressure on both the knee and ankle.

Of course, this also goes the other way:  Warn-out shoes without arch support encourage “flat-footed” walking, another source of significant stress on the ankles and knees.  So for best knee protection, stick to tennis shoes or other ‘flat’ shoes, and be sure to replace them when they lose arch support.

You only get one set of knees.  Protect them when exercising for best results.

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