Whether it comes on suddenly or gradually, knee pain can be extremely irritating and severely impact your quality of life. Did you know that some people face a greater risk of experiencing knee pain than others?
Even if you’re not currently experiencing it, it’s still important to know the risk factors for knee pain so you can take steps to prevent them. Read on to learn more about some of the most common lifestyle factors that contribute to knee pain.
Read more: 10 Foods To Avoid If You Have Arthritis
5 Factors that Increase Your Knee Pain
1. Carrying Excess Weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis (joint inflammation) is one of the most common causes of knee pain.
When you carry excess weight, you increase the amount of stress being placed on your knees when you perform daily tasks like climbing the stairs or walking to and from your car. Too much stress can inflame the joint, wear down cartilage, and lead to stiffness and limited range of motion.
More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are currently considered either overweight (meaning they have a body mass index of 25-25.9) or obese (meaning they have a body mass index of more than 30).
Another one in thirteen adults are considered to be extremely obese, meaning they have a body mass index of more than 40.
2. Being of a Certain Age
Unless you make an effort to protect your joints when you’re young, the older you are, the greater your risk of developing knee pain. This is partly due to the fact that age is a major contributing factor to the development of osteoarthritis. But, even those without osteoarthritis can deal with knee and joint pain as they get older.
As you age, you also lose bone density and your muscles and tendons become stiffer and more prone to injury. All of the changes increase your risk of developing joint pain, and the knees are particularly susceptible.
3. Having Weak or Inflexible Muscles
When the muscles surrounding the knee joint are weak, the chances of developing knee pain significantly increase. It’s especially important to work on strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. These muscles help stabilize the knee joint as you walk, climb, bend, and lift.
It’s also important to make sure the joints that surround the knee can move through a full range of motion. If your hip or ankle joints are immobile, for example, you may develop poor muscle recruitment patterns or adjust your way of moving to compensate. This, in turn, can contribute to knee pain.
4. Being an Athlete
Playing certain sports also makes you more prone to knee pain and injuries. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or someone who just plays for fun, if you participate in the following sports, you’ll need to take extra care to protect your knee:
- Alpine skiing
5. Post Experience of Knee Injury
If you’ve already experienced a knee injury, be it a strain, a ligament tear, or an overuse injury like tendonitis or chondromalacia, you’re more likely to hurt your knee again later on or suffer from chronic knee pain.
Osteoarthritis of the knee (and all the pain that comes with it) is also more likely to show up in people who have previously suffered from knee injuries. This is especially true for those who didn’t properly rehabilitate their injured knee joint the first time around.
How to Prevent Knee Pain For Long Term?
It’s not always possible to prevent yourself from experiencing knee pain altogether. But, these tips can help you avoid injuries and prevent joint deterioration and inflammation.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
The easiest way to maintain a healthy weight is by eating a healthy, balanced diet. You should work on reducing your consumption of refined carbohydrates, sugar, and trans fats, especially. These kinds of foods have been linked to increased joint pain and inflammation.
Instead, focus on eating more whole foods, especially vegetables, fruit, high-quality meat, and healthy fats (extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, etc.).
2. Engage in Sport-Specific Conditioning
Sport-specific conditioning is essential for athletes. Taking the time to properly train your body will help you make sure you’re prepared for the demands of your sport of choice. You may need to consider investing your money and time in working with a coach, too.
Especially if you’re someone who takes their sport very seriously, it’s worth it to spend some extra time and money to learn proper technique. Not only will this help you perform better in your sport, but it’ll also help you avoid pain and injuries now and in the future.
3. Stretch and Strengthen Your Muscles Regularly
A consistent exercise routine that incorporates cardiovascular exercises, resistance training, and mobility work will help you keep your bones and muscles strong and healthy. This, in turn, will help stave off knee pain. Exercise will also help you shed excess pounds to minimize the pressure being placed on your knee joints.
In order to experience the pain-fighting benefits of exercises, it’s important to make sure you’re doing the right kinds of exercises.
When it comes to cardio, weight-bearing exercises like walking, hiking, dancing, and racquet sports like tennis are generally considered to the best and safest. It’s also important to incorporate resistance exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and calf raises, all of which are great for stabilizing the knee joint and preventing injuries.
Finally, dedicate 10-15 minutes at the end of every workout to stretching your muscles and working on your mobility. This will help you recover faster and prevent future pain and injuries.
When it comes to managing your health, knowledge is power. The more you know about the traits and lifestyle factors that could be increasing your risk of experiencing knee pain or knee injuries, the more you can do to prevent them.
Don’t wait until you start dealing with knee pain to take action. Be proactive and start making changes today to protect your knees — and your other joints!