In the medical opinion of this blog post author, maybe you should take care of your knees. For hikers and climbers — for anyone who is active, really — it’s the joint that scores the most points. So in the interest of preserving those ligaments, here’s a few quick tips to keep those knees pleased.
Actually, wait, hold on, time out. Before we start, always remember to talk to your doctors if you are experiencing some red flag warnings. Joint swelling, buckling, chronic pain… these are signs that your doctor should
be looking at.
There, all settled? Great!
1. Remember that song, “the thigh bone is connected to your… hip bone.” I admit, that song was not as helpful during Anatomy 101 as I hoped. However, the underlying wisdom of this particular novelty song is that often times, the location of a nagging pain can be very far from from what is causing it.
Your feet, and how you walk, can greatly effect your knee (and hips, and back). A good gait can be the difference maker in pursuing life-long passions and grumbling every time it rains. In this case, learning to walk (properly) before you run is a lot deeper than you might realize.
Hey, speaking of walking…
2. Don’t “walk it off” when it comes to discomfort in the knees. If nothing else, further exertion in an injured area is just going to make things worse, and doubly so for knees.
Always remember to rest. The first lesson any gym rat will tell you is that your body recovers/builds muscle when you rest. So if you are feeling an ache, sit back and prop your feet up — literally, as keeping your knees elevated above your heart is also a good way to rest your knees.
3. If the shoe fits… wait, does it? The right shoe can be one of the best investments for your body if you are serious about your outdoor passions. Trail-hikers can do well with light, low-top shoes, while backpackers will find high-tops to provide better ankle support for uphill climbs and muddy trails.
Mountaineers (hey, that’s us!) often wear heavy, stiff shoes, designed more for attaching essential equipment to scale rocks than for skipping along merrily.
4. While we would love to run around outside for a living, some/most of us have to deal with sitting around the office. A small tip to save up those knees for weekend jaunts is to sit in a chair that puts your hips slightly higher or equal height than your knees, and allow you to keep your feet flat on the floor.
Though, to be fair, as of the time of this writing, the author of this particular blog post is crumpled on his chair, legs twisted and bent into a fake yoga pose called “the salty pretzel.”
5. And speaking of stretches, there are some exercises to avoid if you have knee pain. You may prefer a slow, pose-heavy Yoga routine over quick, kinetic exercises (like Hot Yoga) if you have knee joints issues. Not all classes are the same, and before embarking on anything new, it’s always a good idea to ease yourself into the program.
Adapted from The Healthy Knees Book, by Astrid Pujari, M.D., and Nancy Schtaz Alton