You feel a twinge when you awake in the morning, run for the train, climb the stairs, bend down to pick up your kids. You’ve had achy knees so long that you believe it’s “normal.” It’s not! In fact, you don’t have to sit back and suffer. There are several things you can do to ease the pain, starting now.
1. Don’t run too oftenThis one may be hard for running aficionados to swallow, but the hard truth is that repetitive, long training runs put you at higher risk for knee injury. Supplement that high-impact pounding with, a knee-friendlier cardio workout, such as biking or elliptical training, after one or two long runs.
2. Strengthen your thighs and buttYou’re asking for trouble if the muscles around the knee are too weak to support it. Pumping up your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps can go along way to protect your knees. Some of my favorite exercises include:
3. Switch up your workout
Cardio queens and kings, take note. “When you do the same workout over and over again, you end up training specific muscles and ignoring others,” Physiotherapist and fitness trainer, Steve Pfiester, explains. “As a result, you create a muscular imbalance in strength and flexibility that can put you at risk for injury,” he says. To avoid this drama, Pfiester suggests doing cross-training, flexibility-based workouts, and resistance training several times weekly.
4. Take an active day offPeople tend to either avoid recovery days, as if they’re fitness kryptonite, or they misuse their days off. Let’s get this straight: To stay in the “fitness game” for years on end, you must let your body recover. But that doesn’t mean you should stay plopped on the couch all day. Performing some easy activities can actually help speed up the recovery process. Try these light lifts:
- Go on a walk, or a take a light bike ride.
- Do a gentle yoga DVD.
- Make the foam roller your new best friend. Click here to learn how to use one!
5. Watch your weight
If you’re carrying even 10 or 15 extra pounds, every step you take puts your knees in harm’s way. Stick to a healthy weight loss program that includes a balanced meal plan, low-impact cardio, and strength training. Your knees (and jeans) will love you for it.