Regardless if you're one of the many people who like to get involved in extracurricular activities after work, you're a seasoned athlete, or you're someone who's completely laid back when it comes to regular exercise, it's important to know how to protect your joints from damage if you want to live a fulfilling lifestyle, and maintain great mobility.
There are a surprising number of ways you could be ruining your knees without even realizing it, and therefore increasing your chances of suffering from problems like arthritis and trouble walking in the future.
1. Ignoring Pain
Although the occasional ache in your knee here and there is a common complaint for most people, it's important to know which pains you can ignore, and which are signs that you could be ruining your knees. When the pain you experience is significant, it's important to speak to a doctor straight away about what could be causing your discomfort.
Significant pain is defined as anything that limits your ability to behave as you normally would. If your body is sending signals that something is wrong, you need to listen to it.
2. Refusing to Lose Weight
Every pound of extra body weight you carry around equates to five pounds of extra force on the knee. In other words, an extra ten pounds of weight puts around fifty pounds of pressure on the joints that are responsible for keeping you active.
Being overweight also increases the risk that you will suffer from osteoarthritis in the knee at a later stage in your life, because the extra pounds contribute to wearing away the cushioning cartilage around the joint.
3. Neglecting the ACL
The ACL is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee, and regular problems with it could be a sign that you're ruining your knees. By undergoing training methods designed to help you improve the strength in this ligament, and the muscles throughout your legs, you can lower your chances of injury and therefore protect your knee from further problems.
If you're not sure how to get started, speaking to a doctor or professional trainer could be a good idea.
4. Forgetting Rest and Rehabilitation
The rest and rehabilitation period that follows an injury to the knee, which can include everything from hot and cold therapy, to the use of a knee compression sleeve, and even time spent off your feet, is an important part of preparing your joints for use in the future. If you want to avoid future pain and discomfort, then you need to give your knee time to repair itself, and depending on the injury, recovery could last anywhere from a week, to a number of months.
5. Pushing Yourself Too Far
Finally, pushing yourself to do too much too soon is a surefire way to start ruining your knees. While you need to challenge yourself if you want to make improvements to your overall fitness, you also need to give your body time to adjust and recover.
A sudden increase in the duration or intensity of exercise can cause injuries from overuse and repetitive strain. Know when to give yourself a break.