If your legs feel stiffer when you stand up, or you hear pops and creaks when you bend down, you aren’t alone. When it comes to aging, one of the first places many women begin to notice little aches, pains, and “pops,” is in the knee joints. The fact is that as we age, we put plenty of wear and tear on the cartilage in our knees, which can lead to inflammation, pain, swelling, bone spurs, and osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects approximately 30 million people in the U.S. So how can you avoid being a statistic and take care of your knees after 50? While it’s true that cartilage deterioration occurs naturally as we age, there are some steps you can take to slow the process down.
It’s not uncommon for women to see our waistlines start to expand, especially during menopause. But keep in mind that every pound you gain adds an additional four pounds of pressure on your joints. So while an extra 10 pounds may not sound like much, it’s actually an extra 40 pounds that your knees have to bear. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and stay active to help keep your weight where it should be and your knees feeling good.
So, here’s the irony: the very thing you need to do to stay healthy and active can actually backfire when it comes to keeping your knees pain-free. High-intensity exercises like running, jumping, and aerobics, can actually cause more harm than good when it comes to wear and tear. Activities like prolonged or heavy squatting. Before you use that as an excuse not to hit the gym, you should know that there are plenty of other exercises that not only keep you fit, they can actually strengthen your knee joints.
One of the best? Cycling, either indoor or outdoor, has multiple benefits including increased cardiovascular endurance, improved balance, and a more toned physique, all without placing any impact on the knee joint. You can also enjoy walking, elliptical machines and swimming to trim and tone without adding unnecessary joint stress. Strengthening the leg muscles through weight-bearing exercises is another way to reduce strain to the knees. If you’ve never tried strength training, it’s not too late to start. Just make sure that you work with a trainer to learn proper form and technique in order to avoid injury and setbacks.
Our 5-Minute Barre series on YouTube can help you build strength in your knees. Watch below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more fitness videos.
When it comes to reducing inflammation, detoxifying the body, and aiding in the healing process, consider going to extremes with methods like Cryotherapy or Infrared Saunas. Both use extreme temperatures to accomplish similar results. With Cryotherapy, the body is exposed to subzero temperatures for three minutes, resulting in increased blood circulation, and decreased inflammation and pain. On the opposite end of the spectrum, infrared saunas expose the skin to infrared rays that penetrate the skin and help the body to detoxify, also reducing inflammation. Both methods produce similar results, so depending on whether you prefer to chill out or stay warm is up to you.
It’s not just movement that can aggravate the joints. Standing all day, especially on hard surfaces, can cause problems too. If you must stand for prolonged periods of time, invest in cushioned and comfortable footwear, or insert insoles into your favorite pair of pumps. In other words, save the stilettos for special occasions!
While the wear on the body from aging is largely inevitable, the extent of it doesn’t have to be. Being mindful of how you take care of your knees over 50 and the stress and strain we place on them and other joints, and taking preventative measures can go a long way in enjoying an active and pain-free life.