Top tips to look after your knees!
Top tips to look after your knees!
I’m always reminded of the famous song by Baz Luhrmann called “sunscreen”; it’s a great philosophical tune in which he dispenses some great life advice including “Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone”. And I couldn’t agree with him more!
As an orthopaedic knee specialist, I see all different types of knee problems and love helping people to get back to their active and mobile best. I see every day the huge impact a bad knee can have on an individual’s life. Weight gain, depression, loss of work and social activity to name but a few.
My approach to knee surgery is one of “Joint Preservation”. This means that in my practice, I would always prefer to save the patient’s own knee. The human knee is a very complex joint which is composed of bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons and other tissues. This is the best joint we’ll ever have and we should be doing everything we can to keep it.
Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of cartilage pathology. The structure of the cartilage is damaged and this can lead to degeneration and subsequent loss of function of the cartilage. This leads to load transmission to the underlying bone and this registers as pain. Once the pain starts, the cycle begins. Pain leads to less use of the joint, resulting in stiffness of the surrounding tissues and a worsening of the movement around the joint. The less the joint is moved, the weaker the muscles become. The end point of this cycle is complete loss of cartilage. Once this happens, you have no choice but to have a joint replacement operation. Choosing a good surgeon is very important to ensure the best possible result following surgery.
Here are some tips to help avoid this:
• Weight management – this is top of my list! It’s very difficult to lose weight once you have put it on so prevention is the key. Aim for a BMI (body mass index) of 18-25. If you’re above this then please work on getting this down. You’ll feel better and so will your knees. The healthier your BMI, the less stress forces going through your knee joints.
• Muscle strength and tone – This is very important. Your joints are supported by the surrounding muscles. If you keep your muscles strong and toned; with every step you take, the muscles will be doing the work. If your muscles are weak, the load is transmitted straight through the joint, worsening the state of the cartilage and making the problems worse. Best exercise for this – Squats are amazing! They work everything from your back, glutes, thighs, hamstrings and calves.
• Core strength –Pilates or yoga? You decide. Whatever works for you. But working on the core is essential. If you have strong core the peripheral muscles work better, giving you better posture and stopping abnormal loading.
• Range of movement – Stretching every day. In the morning start by touching your toes, then your back and shoulders, knees and hips. You should be aiming to kneel down with the legs fully flexed and your bum on your heels. This is key to healthy joints.
• Supplements –They are called supplements for a reason (i.e. to supplement everything else that you’re doing). The ones that improve joint health are: cod liver oil, Glucosamine and Chondroitin capsules and recently Turmeric capsules – great for joint inflammation and pain relief. Try it! Clearly taking all of the above would be expensive and a lot of pills per day. So try them, and choose one that suits you.
Above all, keep moving, eat healthily and pursue a balanced and active lifestyle. If you have a serious joint problem, then the above will not be able to help you. In that case, please do pop in and let me have a look, and let’s get you back to where you want to be. Good luck!