Rikhi Anandsongkit and his team of physiotherapists give their expert advice.
Healthy knees are the key to long-term mobility as you grow older. Whether it is taking walks in the morning or following a weekly strength training regime, your knees have to support you and enable you to do the activities you choose to stay fit.
I’ve had clients come to my physiotherapy clinic looking to improve their knee health and while we can help everyone get better, it’s always a good idea to protect your knees in the first place.
Here are three tips to help you retain your knee mobility and health as you age:
1. Maintain a healthy weight: Every time you stand and walk, your body weighs down on your joints, especially your knees. If you’re overweight or obese, you’re much more likely to damage the cartilage between your joints, resulting in joint pain.
For every extra kilogramme you carry, you put about two more kilogrammes of pressure on your lower body and your knee joints. Even if you’re just a few kilos overweight, that added weight can be enough to cause knee damage. Any sudden movements or athletic bursts of power become even more difficult to manage.
Losing weight to reach your healthy weight is going to make a big difference to your overall health and your knees will also thank you for it.
2. Wear appropriate footwear: Your shoe size can increase as you age, as your feet change shape slightly over time. That’s why it is important to periodically have your shoe size checked and if you do have to go up in size, get rid of your smaller footwear and buy new shoes.
Certain types of shoes have a significant impact on your knees and it is a good idea to limit their use or remove them from your wardrobe entirely. High heels, in particular, raise your heel far above your forefoot, putting immense pressure forward onto your knees. Flat shoes without significant heel-toe drop are the best for your feet because they allow your feet to distribute the weight more optimally.
3. Perform targeted leg exercises regularly and work on mobility. Your knees are ably supported by other leg muscles and they need to be constantly engaged and strengthened throughout your lifetime. Your tibialis muscles (located on the front of the lower leg), your calf muscles and your quadriceps are instrumental in reducing stress and weight on your knee joints and cartilage.
Each of these muscle groups can be targeted for regular exercise a few times a week and you don’t even need to go to the gym or use any special equipment to train them. Squats, calf raises and many other exercises and variations are appropriate for all age groups and you should choose what’s best for your needs.
Knee mobility is another important subject you need to address because as a pivotal joint in your body, your knees need to be able go through anatural range of motion. Mobility exercises and stretches give your muscles and ligaments the movement they need to retain theirfunctionality. Rotate your knees carefully and extend them through the full range of motion weekly and you’ll be in good shape for the future.
If you’re experiencing knee pain, find a specialist who understands your body, your posture, how you move, how your muscles function, and what your goals are so that they can find the root cause of your pain and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to get you back to doing what you love.
Rikhi Anandsongkit is the owner of Form Physio and Rehab, a physiotherapy clinic that helps adults in Bangkok get back to doing the things they love without painkillers, injections, and surgeries.