Over 60? Here Are the 7 Best Ways To Keep Your Knees Healthy
Whether you've suffered a knee injury or just find yourself experiencing regular discomfort during your daily activities, knee pain can put a damper on virtually every aspect of your daily routine. According to research published in American Family Physician in 2018, approximately 25% of U.S. adults suffer from knee pain, with the prevalence of the condition skyrocketing 65% over the past 20 years alone.
However, just because you're suffering from knee pain now doesn't mean a lifetime of discomfort—or future surgery—is a foregone conclusion. Read on to discover expert-backed tips to keep your knees healthy and pain-free over 60. And for more ways to take some pressure off your joints, check out these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.
Pay attention to how you sit
One of the simplest ways to keep your knees healthy doesn't require even a second of exercise—it's all about how you sit.
"Try to sit without crossing your legs or sitting on a couch with your leg under you," suggests Sidney Hagge-Cocke, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Preferred Physical Therapy in Kansas City, Kansas. "When we sit with our legs crossed, more pressure is put across our knee joint which can cause irritation or pain that could cause more pain moving forward," Hagge-Cocke explains.
Always warm up and cool down
If you're skipping out on the warm-up or cool-down portion of your workouts, you could be putting undue wear and tear on your knees.
"Always make time for a quick warm-up before being active. This could be as simple as doing some seated exercises, including ankle pumps, long arc quads, seated marches, and hip adduction," says Hagge-Cocke.
"Cool-down stretches are just as important as the warm-up," Hagge-Cocke adds. "Try to complete some hamstring, quadriceps, adductor, and IT band stretches to continue to maintain your flexibility,"
Squats are great for building muscle, but performing them wrong could make your knee pain worse in no time.
"Here is a little trick to make sure you are doing it correctly: when lowering yourself into a squat, you should always be able to look down and see your toes. Don't let your knees go too far forward or out to the side. It should be more like you are sitting in a chair or going to sit on the toilet. If your bottom doesn't sit back towards the chair, you will end up on the ground," says Hagge-Cocke.
Wear the right shoes
Even if you're maintaining the right form during your workout, the wrong shoes can quickly lead you into painful territory.
"Go to a running or a specialty shoe store and get your feet assessed for proper shoes. Not everyone has the same arch or needs the same style of shoe," says Hagge-Cocke. "Go to a professional and get some assistance. Your knees will thank you!"
While overexertion can cause serious knee pain, having a sedentary lifestyle may be just as problematic when it comes to knee pain.
"Walking is a great way to weight-bear with low impact. It not only can help the lower body stay healthy, but it can also improve your cardio endurance for overall health. Try to move your body walking around for at least 20 to 30 minutes per day whenever you can," suggests Danielle Gray, a NASM-certified personal trainer, Pn1-certified nutritionist, and founder of Train Like A Gymnast.
Make swimming part of your routine
If you're looking for a great way to keep your knees strong, swimming might just be the workout for you.
"Swimming is a great zero-impact way to keep your legs strong and healthy. Water provides great resistance that your quads and hamstrings have to work against to move. It's refreshing, calming, beneficial, and great for you physically and mentally," says Gray.
Strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee
While you may be focused on avoiding knee pain, directing your attention to building the muscles that surround your knee may be an even better way to stay pain-free.
"The best way for 60-plus adults to keep their knees healthy is to train all the muscles that support the knee," says WITS certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist Joy Fletcher, co-founder of Agile 4 Life Fitness. "That means train all the muscles in the quadriceps, but also the hamstring muscles, as well as the abductor and adductor muscles (insides and outsides muscles). Any muscle imbalances will cause further knee wear and tear."
For more ways to improve your knee health, avoid these Walking Mistakes That Are Killing Your Knees, Experts Say.