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8 Things Knee Doctors Say You Should Never Do

People often forget the important role knees play in mobility and daily life – until they start to hurt.

Knee pain and injuries are quite common, especially as we age. And while knee replacements can be a big help for people facing serious mobility issues, it would be wise to avoid major surgery.

The good news is that there are many ways to prevent injuries and keep our knees healthy and strong as we age.

HuffPost asked orthopedic surgeons — doctors who know knees inside and out — to share what they never do in the interest of their knee health. Read on to learn about the behaviors they avoid.

They don’t engage in high-impact exercise after prolonged inactivity.

“A mistake people make is jumping into exercise too quickly and going from zero to 100,” said Dr. Eric Grossman, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Health. “If someone is new to exercise, they haven’t built up their tolerance, so trying to do too much at first can lead to injury.”

He recommended getting into more intense workouts. If you want to take up running, for example, consider starting with a slow, short jog on softer surfaces rather than immediately trying to complete a half marathon on concrete.

“Never begin a high-impact, high-stress exercise program after prolonged periods of inactivity,” said Dr. Daniel Miller, an orthopedic surgeon at Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute. “There are many new exercise programs and training modes that offer fast results with intense routines. Give your body time to acclimatize and gradually increase your activity level. You’ll be more likely to avoid injury and stick with your new diet.

They don’t ignore the pain.

“Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong,” Miller said. “If you ignore the pain or simply think you can train through an injury, you will likely continue to experience discomfort. By “pushing away” pain, you are also more likely to exacerbate your current injury and expose yourself to the possibility of future damage.

It’s normal to feel a little sore after a workout, but sudden pain, swelling, or restrictions in movement could be a sign of something more serious.

“Knee pain can be the result of an injury to one of the structures inside the knee, such as a torn meniscus or an injury to a ligament such as the ACL,” said Dr. Struan Coleman, orthopedic surgeon in hospital. the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. “Knee pain can also be a sign that the cartilage is overloaded and starting to wear away, leading to early arthritis.

A doctor’s evaluation and diagnosis can ease your discomfort and help you avoid long-term complications.

“One should always seek the advice of a medical professional who will perform an examination and most likely obtain an X-ray and possibly an MRI,” Coleman added. “Once a diagnosis has been made, the appropriate treatment plan can then be initiated. »

They don’t skip warm-ups.

Before starting a workout or playing sports, it is crucial to take the time to properly warm up your body with stretching and light exercises. This will better equip your muscles and joints to handle the strain of exercise and maximize the benefits.

“Dynamic stretching and warm-ups before exercise help bring blood flow to the muscles and reduce the risk of knee injury,” said Dr. Shawn Anthony, associate chief of sports medicine at Mount Sinai Health System and the Mount Sinai West Orthopedic Center. “This may include lunges, jumping jacks, or running in place. Dynamic stretching has been shown to be better than static stretching.

They do not avoid opportunities for better nutrition.

“A healthy diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins promotes joint health,” Anthony said. “Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces stress on the knee joints, which can worsen pain from knee injuries and osteoarthritis.”

In addition to potentially reducing stress on your joints, eating nutritious foods can also improve longevity and help your body deal with other health issues. Doctors who spoke to HuffPost recommended consulting a nutrition specialist to determine which approach is best for you.

“Maintaining an ideal weight can be very difficult for patients with knee arthritis, because knee pain often causes the patient to lose activity,” Coleman said. “It is extremely important to work with your health care provider to design a good nutrition and exercise program to maintain optimal body weight.”

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Good fitness and warming up before exercise are crucial to preventing knee pain.

They don’t exercise without proper form.

“Never exercise or weightlift without proper mechanics,” Anthony said. “One of the most common causes of injury is poor mechanics when lifting weights.”

Using proper form is an important consideration to avoid straining, tearing or straining your muscles, joints and ligaments.

“It’s especially common among those who are just starting to train,” Anthony added. “It is always best to have the guidance of an athletic trainer who can demonstrate and monitor proper form and reduce the risk of injury.”

They do not frequently kneel on hard surfaces without a cushion.

“It is wise to avoid kneeling frequently and for long periods of time without any padding,” said Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, co-founder of New York Bone & Joint Specialists. “The key to good knee health – or any joints, for that matter – is to preserve and protect the structures we are born with.”

He emphasized the importance of preservation for longevity.

“In particular, the cartilaginous pad is very sensitive and vital for its preservation,” Popovitz added. “Therefore, excessive impact or stress could lead to degeneration of the joint. So of course, it’s best to avoid direct trauma to the knee.

They don’t stick to just one type of physical activity.

“Never underestimate the importance of playing several different sports or alternating exercises and activities,” Anthony said. “Overuse injuries are the leading cause of knee problems. Participating in several different sports or exercise programs is proven to reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries.

Mixing up your physical activities also allows your body to strengthen the muscles that will help keep your knees and other joints healthy. Don’t forget areas like your core.

“It’s important to keep the core muscles strong and stretching to minimize injury,” Popovitz said.

They do not decrease activity after a diagnosis of arthritis.

“When we start to experience knee pain from arthritis, the first thing that happens is we decrease our activity level,” Coleman said. “This results in weakening or atrophy of the muscles around the knee joint, particularly the thigh muscles. Many studies have shown that maintaining strong leg muscles can help prevent knee pain, especially when caused by early arthritis.

He stressed the importance of staying active to maintain and strengthen the muscles around the knee. You might consider working with a physical therapist to develop a specialized program or simply modify your usual routine to focus on low-impact exercises. Keep moving and getting your blood flowing.

“There’s a misconception about arthritis that you can’t use your joints or have to move them less, but your arthritis shouldn’t stop you from being active,” Grossman said. “You just need to organize your activities to focus on more constructive and less impactful options. Stay moving and keep your muscles strong, and if walking is painful, switch to the stationary bike or elliptical, or try swimming.

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