Knee pain is not unique to the elderly—many people in their 30s and 40s also find the soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments beginning to deteriorate, causing lack of mobility and sometimes requiring surgery.
3 Behaviors Hurting Your Knees
There are many factors such as wearing high-heeled shoes, sitting still for prolonged periods, habitually crossing the legs, obesity, excess dieting, and running that can deteriorate the health of your knees. We highlight three of the factors here.
1. Prolonged sitting can displace and wear the bones
The knees of office or remote workers who sit for prolonged periods don’t get much use—unlike other workers who engage in more physical activity throughout the day—such as walking, carrying heavy objects, or squatting.
Sitting without much movement for hours, then lying on the couch after work, causes the body to remain in the same posture for too long. As a result, over time, knee joints and hip bones may displace.
People who tend to sit with their legs crossed at the knees restrict themselves to a tilted posture, in which case the kneecap and hip joints are prone to uneven wear and tear. Over time, the pelvis tilts, causing the patella to shift, and the cartilage on one side of the knee joint to harden which can cause a bone spur to grow. As a result, the body compensates and the posture becomes abnormal. In the worst case, O-shaped legs are formed, and the muscles often ache.
2. Hip joints prone to displacement from the frequent wearing of high-heeled shoes
There was a woman over 40 who wore high-heeled shoes to and from work every day. She said that her feet felt weak when she climbed stairs and that her knees were a little stiff and sore. Such symptoms indicate that it’s time to pay extra attention to the cause of the pain.
High-heeled shoes, though fashionable, if worn often for fast walking or climbing stairs, concentrates force on the hip bones and the knees and can cause the hip joint to displace. A displaced hip is painful and can also affect the uterus and ovaries, and aggravate dysmenorrhea.
It is better to wear shoes more ergonomically designed. If you need to wear high—especially those thin ones—I suggest keeping one more pair of wider heels lower less than 3 cm (1.2 in) to wear alternately.
3. Excess or rapid weight loss can cause sarcopenia and osteoporosis
Overweight people are prone to knee pain due to the excess weight on the joints when walking and otherwise moving. Dieting for too long or hard, while reducing excess fat, can also reduce muscle and lead to a decline in skeletal muscle (sarcopenia) and even osteoporosis. In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Sarcopenia, which means shrinkage is a kind of atrophy. Sarcopenia can increase the burden and wear of the knee cartilage, causing pain, poor cardiopulmonary function, and fatigue.
5 Tips to Prevent Knee Joint Problems
1. Eat turmeric to relieve soreness
People who engage in sports, as well as those who sit for prolonged times, can add turmeric to their diet. Turmeric—a part of the ginger family—is a spice used in curry powder. Traditional Chinese medicine uses sliced turmeric to treat pain in the limbs and muscles. According to ancient classics, Costus root (Aucklandiae radix) and sliced turmeric can cure muscle soreness, pain in bone, and knee pain.
When frying vegetables and making soup, the addition of a little ginger and turmeric, can reduce inflammation in the body as well as enhance the flavor and aroma of the food.
2. Eat cabbage and crustaceans to lubricate the joints
To reinforce the knee ligaments and increase the secretion of lubricating mucus in the joints, eat more cabbage, cauliflower, radish, kale, crustaceans, and animal cartilage.
3. Press two acupoints to relieve knee pain
People with knee pain can press the Quchi acupoint, which is associated with the knee. Press the Quchi of the left hand for relief of the right knee on the right hand for the left knee.
Another useful acupoint is called Chize. By pressing the Chize, the discomfort of the back and inner side of the knee will be improved. Pressing Chize on the left hand controls the right knee, and that on the right hand controls the left knee.
4. 1-minute exercise to strengthen muscles and joints
Poor posture or excessive exercise will lead to early body joint discomfort. Here are three simple exercises you can do anytime in the office to strengthen your muscles and joints.
- Sit and kick up and down to gain muscle strength: Sit on a chair, lift your feet, and straighten forward, then kick up and down alternately, 21 kicks (in multiples of 7) at a time. Practice once or twice a day.
- Squat and soften the hip joints: Open your feet and toes slightly outward, then squat for five seconds, then stand up, and repeat 10 times. Practice twice a day.
- Sit and emulate walking to strengthen the bones: Sit on a chair and emulate walking. Repeat 14 or 21 times, once or twice a day.
5. Move the knee joints even while in pain for quick recovery
I remember that when my mother-in-law lived in my sister-in-law’s house, she was in much better health. But when she moved to stay in my house, her health deteriorated. I couldn’t understand why at the beginning. It was only later that I realized that my sister-in-law’s house has stairs, so for every dinner, she was climbing the stairs.
If the knees are healthy, climbing stairs frequently is not a bad idea. Legs are like the second heart of a person. When walking frequently, the muscles of the legs contract and the cardiopulmonary function improves.
- Skills in descending stairs: For those who already have knee pain, going up and down the staircase could be a nasty experience. One way to alleviate that pain is to go down slowly while facing upward. In such a posture, the load on the knees will be slightly less profound, which can relieve knee pain. But be careful to always hold the handrail and come down slowly. People who are physically handicapped must have someone to watch over them to avoid accidents.
People with knee pain and/or joint swelling should take moderate exercise only—walk slowly as an exercise for rehabilitation.