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4 ways to prevent stiff, achy knees

Arthritis is the leading cause of stiff, achy knees as you age. It is brought on by a previous injury, genetics and the natural aging process.

To help minimize the impact of arthritis as you age, Susan Jordan, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at Piedmont, recommends four lifestyle choices to help preserve these load-bearing joints so you can maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

Preventing knee pain

1.Keep weight in a healthy range. “The single most important thing everyone can do to preserve the health of their knees is to keep weight in a healthy range. This applies to children, teens and adults. Obesity can lead to early onset of arthritis,” says Dr. Jordan.

2.Engage in a regular exercise routine. Low impact exercise is the best type of exercise to keep knees mobile and pain free. That includes walking, bike riding, swimming or exercising in a pool, and using an elliptical machines.

3.Incorporate weight training into your exercise program. Weight training keeps muscles strong, stabilizes joints and prevents osteoporosis.

4.Wear supportive shoes with good arch support. Proper footwear provides a stable foundation for the rest of your body.

Keep moving, even if you have knee discomfort

Dr. Jordan believes if you suffer from knee pain, the key is to keep moving.

“When you give in to your pain and become sedentary, this often leads to other health issues like gaining weight, becoming even stiffer and less flexible,” says Dr. Jordan. “All exercise is good. Running may need to be modified in patients with knee pain due to the high impact nature.”

She recommends running on a soft surface like a rubberized track or dirt. This may be more comfortable than running on roads or cement.

Treating knee pain

Unfortunately, there are no supplements that magically ward off osteoarthritis. However, icing your knees after a workout can help minimize pain. Dr. Jordan recommends using ice for 15- to 20-minute increments after exercise. Take a 10-minute break between icings and place a towel between the ice and your skin to reduce your risk of frostbite.

“As our population lives longer and stays active later in life, we are seeing more and more patients opt for knee replacements,” says Dr. Jordan. “This is a viable option for those with chronic knee pain, but I can’t stress enough the importance of managing your weight throughout your lifetime. This can have a huge impact on minimizing knee pain as you age.”

For more information on bone, muscle and joint health, click here

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