Since your knees take so much of the impact of exercise and everyday living, it's important to keep them healthy. Take note of the following home remedies to do just that.
Stay trim. Being overweight stresses all the joints of the body, but carrying around those extra pounds is particularly tough on the knees, because with every step, you exert on your knees a force equal to one-and-a-half times your body weight. When you run, the force is five times your weight. An extra 20, 30, 40, or more pounds of body weight (usually from body fat) can really stress the knees.
For example, if you're only 20 pounds overweight and you jog, you're putting 100 pounds extra force on each knee with every step. So work on getting and keeping your weight within a healthy range (ask your doctor what that range is for you) by adopting a low-fat, lower-calorie diet, and getting regular exercise.
Look at your feet. A common cause of knee problems is overpronation, or rolling inward of the foot. A certain amount of pronation is normal, but too much can cause knee problems because it throws the knee out of alignment.
You can correct overpronation with supportive shoes designed to prevent pronation or with orthotics, which are special shoe inserts. You can buy ready-made, over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics, or you can get custom-made ones from a podiatrist, orthopedist, chiropractor, or sports-medicine specialist.
Buy the right shoes. Wear the lowest heel possible. The body can tolerate a heel of about one inch; higher heels throw the body forward and stress the knees. If you tend to pronate, buy a shoe that has antipronation devices or high-density material on the inner side and cushioning material on the inner side of the sole. Also, seek out shoes that have a stiff heel counter, the part of the shoe that cups the heel, because it helps stabilize the heel.
For sports, buy shoes designed for the activity -- walking shoes for walking, running shoes for running, and so on. Wearing running shoes for walking can cause pain in the shins and, in some cases, knee pain.
Then replace them. Often, knee problems are simply the result of walking or running in shoes that are worn out. Replace your athletic shoes every six months or every 400 to 600 miles.
Check your alignment. If you're bowlegged or knock-kneed, you may be at greater risk for knee problems. To check your alignment, stand with your ankles touching. If you're in alignment, both your ankle bones and your knees should touch. If your knees touch but there's a large space between your ankles, you're knock-kneed. If your ankles touch but there's space between your knees, you're bowlegged.
If you are not in alignment, activities such as swimming or cycling, in which the knees don't take quite such a pounding, might be less likely than running to cause you pain. (If you choose cycling, be sure the seat is set high enough so that your leg is almost fully extended on the downward stroke to prevent knee strain.)
Don't rely on OTC braces. Often, you see people wearing knee braces or bandages they've purchased at the pharmacy. An OTC knee brace may make you aware of the knee and remind you to avoid overtraining, but it doesn't really correct or prevent problems -- in fact, it can give you a false sense of security and might tempt you to be less cautious than you should be.
If you do use an OTC knee brace, opt for the one-piece neoprene or elastic braces rather than the elastic wraps, which make it difficult to apply pressure evenly to the knee. But keep in mind that if your knee hurts enough to brace it, you should see your doctor.
Avoid "knee-busting" activities. Deep knee bends and squats may feel like great fitness boosters, but they're too hard on the knees. So is kneeling, especially on hard surfaces.
If you lift weights, never fully flex the knee, don't "lock" your knees when you're in the standing position, and keep the amount of weight you ask your knees to lift to a minimum.
If you're gardening, washing a floor, or doing some other activity that requires kneeling, use a foam kneeling cushion or knee pads and give your knees frequent rest periods.
Read about more home remedies for battling knee pain on the next page.
For more information about knee pain and how to combat it, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- The neck is another delicate part of the body. Learn about Home Remedies for Neck Pain here.
- Like knee pain, physical activity can also cause shin splints. Read about Home Remedies for Shin Splints.
- If walking or running gives you pain, check out Home Remedies for Foot Pain.
- Those with muscle aches should familiarize themselves with Home Remedies for Muscular Pain.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.