Are you one of those people who learn that you’ve overdone it by receiving a special delivery notice from your knees? Have you ever had a knee just go out and fold up like a card table? Maybe you’ve had a knee lock up, blow up, blow out, or just plain hurt. For knee pain sufferers everywhere, this blog’s for you.
Knee pain and problems are probably only second to back pain in incidence. If you have knee pain, you’re not alone; over 50 million Americans suffer from knee issues. The causes of knee pain are varied, and can stem from overuse, overweight, weak leg muscles, trauma, or deterioration from wear and tear.
Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for knee pain. In Chinese medicine, knee pain is a sign of stagnant energy. The Chinese believe that our body’s energy moves in pathways, and when there is pain of any kind, it means that the flow of energy is impeded. Knee pain or weakness can also be a sign that the Chinese Kidney system is weak. When this is the case, the pain in your knees is frequently accompanied by dull achy pain in your lower back. For a full explanation on the Kidney system and Chinese medicine, go here.
The good news with knee pain is that there are things that you can do to alleviate that pain and even prevent episodes in the future. Among them:
-Strengthen your leg muscles. The muscle groups that move your knees include your quadriceps on the front of your thigh, and your hamstrings on the back. To strengthen your quadriceps, start with some simple leg lifts: lie flat on the floor, keeping your legs straight, turn your right foot outward about 20 degrees. Lift your right leg off the floor a few inches, hold for the count of three and bring it down. Start with 20 repetitions and work up to 50. Repeat with the left leg. For your hamstrings, you can do simple leg curls: begin either lying face down on the floor or standing, attach an ankle weight (start with one pound and work up) to your right ankle. Slowly bend your right leg at the knee 90 degrees hold for three seconds then slowly lower your leg back to your starting position. Repeat the set with your left leg. Start with 20 repetitions and work up to 50.
-Go easy on the activities that are hard on your knees. Activities such as running, hilly hiking, and stair climbing aggravate knee pain because the movements involved forcibly push your kneecap against your thigh bone. Avoid any activities that aggravate your knee pain until you have strengthened your leg muscles and your pain has calmed down.
-Check out your shoes. Make sure you’re wearing the right shoes for you and your sport. In addition, look for signs of wear on the soles of your shoes and replace sports shoes frequently. Sales people at a good athletic shoe store can look at your gait and help you choose the right shoe for you—it’s worth spending a little more to not have knee pain.
-Lose a little weight. This is pretty self-explanatory – if you’re sporting some excess weight, it’s hard on your knees.
-Know when to brace and when not to brace. Wearing a knee brace can help stabilize your knee early on in the injury cycle. However, if you depend on a knee brace too long, you won’t build up the muscles that support your knee. Once you’re on a healing track, give the knee brace a rest so you can build up knee strength.
-Know when to check with your doctor. If you have injured your knee, if you notice swelling, your knee locking, giving out, or pain that goes beyond mildly achy, it’s time to get your knee assessed by your doctor. While these symptoms may be garden-variety knee pain, they can also be signs of serious internal damage to your knee.