As we age, knee pain becomes a common complaint among many individuals. One of the most common causes of knee pain is chondromalacia patellae, a condition that causes the cartilage under the kneecap to soften, according to Jennifer Hootman, Ph.D, Centers for Disease Control. Symptoms of this common type of knee pain may improve or even disappear with eight to 10 weeks of strengthening exercises.
Though there are a number of preventative measures that can help alleviate the pain, perhaps themost effective way is simply to maintain a healthy weight. For every extra pound a person adds to their frame, they add an extra four pounds of pressure on their knees when they walk or take the stairs. When they shed that weight, their knee pain not only can improve, but may diminish altogether.
Bodyfitz trainer Heath Belue believes that people need to remain as active as possible, as increasing muscle strength can lead to decreasing knee pain. “Having aches is no excuse for being a couch potato. They will only get worse.”
According to Heath, there are several different factors that can contribute to knee pain. Age is one factor, and others include lifestyle, prior or current injury or genetics. Normally, people begin to feel joint pain when life starts to slow down with age or retirement. Around age 50 or 60 is a common time period when sedentary people begin to experience knee and joint pain. Arthritis also has a big impact around this time of life.
Heath believes that, without a doubt, exercise may help delay or even prevent some of the most common knee issues. “A lack of strength in the muscles surrounding the knee is one of the biggest problems that can result from a sedentary lifestyle. Strong leg muscles take pressure off of the knee joint and can help relieve or prevent knee pain.”
Although everyone’s knee problems are different, Heath begins working with his clients who suffer from knee pain with the standard evaluation that he has learned from first-hand experience while working with orthopedic physicians and physical therapists.
“This evaluation helps me to determine what a client can and cannot do when exercising,” Heath explained. “It basically is a checklist of questions that help me to know what is happening with the client’s knee. I also check my client’s physical appearance for swelling around the knee, and determine if they are overweight. I also check their knee and body alignment and assess their posture.”
Heath said that all of the client’s answers to his questions build upon each other and help him create an exercise program that will benefit them, though in some cases of extreme pain, he may refer them to a physician.
He also asks the client to perform a series of movements to determine how strong their knee is, or whether there is an issue with the ligament or hamstring to quadriceps strength ratio. Heath also checks knee balance and stability. From this evaluation, he designs a workout, pulling knowledge from his more than 17 years of experience as an exercise physiologist, athlete and personal trainer to develop a program that will help his clients strengthen their knees and entire body.
“Though there may be some limitations in place, people can have healthy knees through smart training,” Heath explained. “Through my education and training experience, I know that individuals can improve their quality of life through corrective exercises. Knowing the limitations and capabilities of my clients plays a major role in smarter training and prevention of knee pain.”