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A joint effort: Decoding knee pain

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With the warm weather finally upon us, many of us will jump back into our outdoor exercise routines … and unfortunately, some of us will realize our knees aren’t quite what they used to be when we were younger. We asked Dr. Armin Tehrany, founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care, to give us the lowdown on knee pain, what we can do to prevent it, and how we can keep active — and most of all, healthy!

Q. Why are knee injuries so common?

A. Knee injuries are very common for two reasons: the knee joint is very complex, and also, the knee absorbs all of the force from our bodies hitting the ground as we walk, run, jump, and practice other movement. Additionally, we, as active human beings, will twist, turn, and jump, using our knees in many situations. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments that make up the knee are all affected from these movements and make them prone to injury.

Q. What are your top three tips for avoiding knee strain and injuries?

A. My three top tips for avoiding knee strain and injuries are to practice low-impact exercise, always warm up before exercise, and maintain a healthy body weight. Some extreme workout trends (such as CrossFit, high-intensity interval training) can have a harsh impact on your knees. Stick to low-impact exercise to protect your knees and make sure you always warm up and stretch beforehand. Warming up with light cardio and stretching can loosen the muscles surrounding the knee, therefore reducing tension and lowering injury risk.

Q. Are there any activities or movements that people should avoid to avoid knee injuries, especially among people in their late 30s, 40s, 50s?

A. For someone who might be in her 20s or 30s, my advice is to not over-exert. This age range will feel like a prime time to focus on your fitness, but if you train too hard with high-impact exercise, you could be setting your knees up for higher risk of injury (especially as you age down the road). Your 30s are a great time to strengthen the muscles around your knees with light and normal weight training, but don’t overdo it.

Someone in her 40s may be experiencing hormonal changes and muscle mass loss. It is important for people in their 40s to be smart about their bodies. Make sure you are eating healthy and the right nutrients to support your aging body. Additionally, recognize that as you age, it is not about the quantity of your workouts (how often or how many times a day or week you are working out), but focus on the quality. Make sure you are practicing correct form, breathing, and stretching during workouts to avoid injury.

Someone in her 50s should know that her body is not going to work as it used to (but this doesn’t mean to stop exercising!). Be smart by wearing cushioned shoes, and concentrate on non-impact exercising, such as cycling or elliptical training.

Q. How can you strengthen your knees?

A. It’s important to understand how other parts of the leg affect the knee. Your leg muscles (like your quadriceps and hamstrings) support the knee, so in order to keep your knees healthy and strong, we have to keep these muscles strong as well. Lunges and donkey kick exercises can help strengthen these muscles, along with using low-impact exercise machines (like a stationary bike). Additionally, increasing your calcium intake can help strengthen bones which can also strengthen your knees. It is important to note that people should stop any practice or exercise that hurts their knees.

Visit Dr. Tehrany at www.MOCNYC.com.

Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite.

Updated 5:06 pm, July 9, 2018
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