The majority of American adults have experienced knee pain at some point in their lives, and many live with chronic knee pain. Fortunately, exercise and physical therapy have been proven to be just as effective as surgery for relief from osteoarthritis-related knee pain. Strengthening and stretching key muscles can help you to prolong your knee health and to relieve your chronic knee pain.

Stretch the Muscles That Support Your Knees

Sitting for the majority of the day can cause many of your muscles in your legs and hips to atrophy or become imbalanced. When that happens, your hamstrings and hip abductors (the muscles in your inner thigh) can end up overworking to compensate, which in turn creates compressive force on the knee joint. You can alleviate the resulting pain by stretching out these supportive muscles so that they loosen up. Your sports medicine specialist can teach you the stretches you need to know and provide you with an appropriate stretching regimen.

Tone Your Core

Abdominal weakness is a leading cause of knee pain. When your abdomen, or core, is weak, it allows your pelvis to tilt forward, which in turn causes your lower back to curve excessively and shifts the leg bones inward. Strengthening your core will help to keep your back in the appropriate position and place your knees where they need to be to move without joint compression. There are many ways to improve your core strength, including pilates, yoga, planking, kickboxing or exercising with a ball. We can help you find a core routine that is both fun and easy for you to stick with.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight makes you significantly more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis. The extra body weight adds strain to your knee joints and decreases the strength of your knee muscles. Research has shown that decreasing your weight by 10 percent will improve your knee function by as much as 28 percent. Reducing your weight and maintaining a healthy weight requires a lifelong commitment to exercise and a balanced diet. You can begin to do low-impact exercises like water aerobics, using an elliptical trainer or cycling without adding impact to your knees.

Avoid High Heels

While you undoubtedly look great in your favorite pair of heels, they can increase the compressive force on your knee joints by up to 23 percent and tighten your calf muscles, both of which are likely to cause you knee pain. Tight calves pull your feet into a position called “pronation,” where the arch of the foot collapses and the lower leg rolls inward. This position places additional stress on your knees and ankles. Instead of wearing high heels, get a cute pair of flats and let your calves stretch.

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