Knee pain nothing to sneeze about for seniors in Joliet

Oh my aching knees. According to senior-fitness.com, in a typical year more than 6 million seniors, age 62 and older, will visit a doctor because of knee pain.

A healthy knee easily can withstand loads equal to more than four times the body weight. Pretty amazing, don’t you agree?

A knee is a joint, and a joint occurs wherever two bones come together. But that definition doesn’t begin to convey the intricacy of joints which provide the body with flexibility, support and a wide range of motion.

The body has four types of joints: fixed, pivot, ball-and-socket, and hinge. Knees are hinge joints which work much like the hinge of a door, allowing the joint to move backward and forward. Knees are the largest and heaviest hinge joints in the body. They’re also the most complex. In addition to bending and straightening, they twist and rotate like a gyroscope. This makes knees especially susceptible to damage which is why they sustain more injuries on average than do other joints.

The knee joint is four bones held together by ligaments. The thighbone (femur) makes up the top part of the joint, and two lower leg bones, the tibia and the fibula, are the lower part. The fourth bone, the patella, slides in a groove on the end of the femur. Ligaments are large bands of tissue that connect bones to one another. In the knee joint, four main ligaments link the femur to the tibia and help stabilize the knee as it moves through its arc of motion.

Over the course of a lifetime, natural lubricants dry-up, and the cartilage wears away. This can lead to arthritis. Then is knee pain inevitable? Many experts think that the human knee can last a long lifetime, provided it’s not abused and receives some basic preventive maintenance. The right lifestyle and activity choices can help make knees stronger, healthier, and more pliant. Most important is to keep moving.

Tips & Warnings from ehow.com:

  • First and foremost, ask your doctor whether knee exercises are safe for you.
  • Walk around for a few minutes before doing knee exercises to give muscles a chance to warm and stretch.
  • Repeat any knee exercise only two or three times in the beginning.
  • Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes to enhance balance and avoid jerky movements when doing knee exercises.
  • Do not hold your breath when doing muscle-tightening exercises.
  • Do not kneel directly on your knees when gardening or doing chores around the house. Seniors should use a low stool or padded kneepads.
  • Do not exercise to the point that you start to feel pain
  • Knee exercises must be done very slowly and gradually increased to avoid putting too much stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments.

The following exercises are recommended for seniors by ehow.com:

To strengthen the quadriceps (front of the thigh):

  • Sit in a chair with your back straight and the balls of your feet touching the floor. If your entire foot lies flat on the floor, sit on some cushions to lift yourself up so only the balls of your feet touch the floor. Your hands can be either resting on your thighs or holding the chair.
  • Bring your right leg in front of you and lift it very slowly until your knee is straight without feeling painful.
  • Point your toes back towards your head while in this position and hold for 3 seconds.
  • Lower your leg back slowly to the starting position, resting the balls of your feet on the floor.
  • Repeat the entire exercise with your left leg. You can repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times if comfortable.

To strengthen the hamstrings (back of the thigh):

  • Sit up straight in a chair with arms that will not move as you do this exercise. Prop the chair against a wall if that will keep it stable. Place legs at a 45-degree angle with heels resting on the floor.
  • Dig your heels into the floor as you hold onto the arms of the chair. Hold that position for 5 seconds. You will feel your hamstring muscles tighten as you do this.
  • Relax for 10 seconds and then repeat 5 to 10 times.
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