Eight ways to avoid knee pain

Not too many things will slow a person’s exercise progress like knee pain.
Most of us have experienced knee pain to one degree or another, but there are ways to limit discomfort and avoid injury.
Knee pain is usually caused by either an acute injury or due to repetitive motions that result in stress. The “wear and tear factor” can increase with age.
Here are eight ways to limit or avoid knee pain altogether:
* Avoid “runner’s stretch” – Although many people learn the runner’s stretch at an early age – grabbing your foot, then bringing heel to butt – this act of bending the knee all the way can cause knee problems. The kneecap can get jammed into the bones below it and according to many trainers can result in chondromalacia patella (softening of cartilage under the knee cap)
* Know your body type – If you have sensitive knees then limit the number of high-impact exercises you perform. For instance, choose elliptical machines for cardio instead of running for long durations on the treadmill.
* Maintain optimal body weight – One of the first things doctors or trainers will look at for a person experiencing chronic knee pain is their body weight. If you’re overweight, that leads to extra pressure on the knees and you should try to drop some pounds.
* Wear proper shoes – The right shoes will help you achieve proper leg alignment and balance, and in the long run avoid knee injuries.
* Warm up properly – Get the blood flowing and joints and muscles warmed up slowly before jumping into a hard workout. Start by walking and doing light cardio before going full speed ahead. Pay particular attention to stretching your quads and hamstrings.
* Do low-impact exercises – Take stress off your knees by walking, using an elliptical machine, swimming or cycling instead of running if you are having knee trouble.
* Lift weights – Use weights to build up your leg strength as this will help better stabilize the knees.
* Seek medical help if condition persists – If you’re not able to improve your knees by tweaking your workout program, seek help from an athletic trainer or doctor. You may need physical therapy.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com