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Knee Pain Management and Prevention

By Michelle Brown C.P.T.

Posted on May 3, 2014 in Fitness

It is likely that at some point in our lives we will all experience knee pain. For many of us, knee issues were brought on by an acute injury from vigorous sports play. For others, knee pain comes in the form of an unwelcome mid life surprise, a squeaky wheel we ignore until it becomes a chronic injury we have to deal with. The structural complexity of the knee and the fact that it is an active weight-bearing joint make it one of the most commonly injured joints in the human body. Regaining knee health without surgery will be a long road, but it is achievable in many cases. More and more, people are taking preventative measures to avoid invasive procedures that often require eventual knee joint replacement. Be warned, patience as well as persistent rehabilitative attention are required and well worth the effort!

The symptoms of knee pain can tell a lot about the cause of the pain. For example, pain on the sides of the knees below the knee cap may indicate that the hamstring muscles in back of the thigh are strained. If this issue is not addressed, the knee joint will destabilize, becoming misaligned and causing a variety of other issues that compound the problem. Tight hamstrings are common in many cultures like ours where sitting is the primary position. Regular movement out of the seated position, daily stretching and myofascial release techniques can alleviate chronic tension of the hamstrings.

Knee swelling is fairly common with knee pain, and can indicate a need for rest due to overuse or misuse. If swelling from an acute injury does not subside with 3 days rest, consult a physician or physical therapist. Gently stretching and rolling the muscles around the knee can bring much needed relief. A trainer that is certified in myo-fascial release like Trigger Point Therapy can help you learn how to relieve acute or chronic joint pain with minimal equipment and effort. If you work out on your own, whether its a long walk, tennis game or weight training, make time for a solid warm up as well as extended stretching and rolling at the end of your workout. This measure alone is a huge part of injury prevention. Consider it a part of your workout… not an added bonus!

Added weight is one of the most common reasons for Osteoarthritis of the knee. For every pound of unneeded weight we lose, we take 4 pounds of pressure off our knees. Dropping that extra weight with a combination of exercise and a nutrient rich diet will definitely have a positive effect on knee health.

Acid producing foods such as processed sugar, heavily processed wheat products, alcohol and caffeine can be culprits of ongoing knee pain and weight gain. Limiting and eventually eliminating foods that cause inflammation from our diets will not only help knee health, but our overall health and longevity. Recent studies show that anti inflammatory foods including Vitamin C rich fruits, foods with high levels of Omega 3 and herbs such as turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, rosemary, coriander and ginger curb joint pain when added to a balanced diet.

Listen to your body. Balance exercise and rest. Preventative care is the key to longevity, and in many cases, surgery is not the best option. If you don’t know how to approach a preventative care program, contact a trusted local trainer or a wellness coach. Many of us offer a free first consultation and, at the very least, we can point you in the right direction.