Rescue knees with exercise

JOINT STORY

Knee pain requires not just a well-structured work-out routine, but a consistent exercise regime to keep you off pain and increase functionality, advises Dr Gladson Johnson

GET THIS The key is to never quit exercise even if the knee is hurting. Exercise, if performed under the guidance of an expert, can offer long-term relief.Knee pain is on the rise, irrespective of age and gender. As our lifestyle becomes more and more sedentary and stressful, issues of such sort crop up to add on to one’s existing ailments. Conventional medicine primarily focuses on administering pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs which prove beneficial in the initial stage. But to come out of the acute pain, what are the long-term preventive care to avoid relapses?

Sadly, there is no answer to this question because a majority of the population enters into an “easy zone” when they experience pain. For instance, someone suffering from knee pain would eventually stop climbing stairs, minimise or permanently put off sitting on the floor, convert an Indian toilet for a western one, etc. Well, these things will work initially but is it worth a pain-free life with so many limitations? Or should one change his/her stance towards the situation, fight it and conquer it?

My opinion strongly favours the latter. How does exercise help? Readers must understand that exercise requires a lot of effort and will and should be performed only under the guidance of an expert. Those of us suffering from mechanical knee-pain due to lack of physical activity should keep this in mind.

An expert will prescribe exercises that are “knee-strengthening” like the static quadriceps, leg raises, quadriceps exercises using an ankle weight. That’s just addressing the tip of the ice berg.

The knee is primarily supported and surpassed by five major groups of muscles

* The short and long adductors (inner thigh)

*The large quadriceps (front thigh) the slender but powerful hamstrings (back thigh)

*The controller called the IT Band(outer thigh)

* The partial support from calf muscles which originate behind the knee joint.

A holistic approach towards arresting a mechanical knee pain should first focus on the flexibility of these five major muscle groups.

Self-stretching is preferred over passive stretching and once optimal flexibility is attained, only then should strengthening be attempted in a functional manner. Functional training involves exercises that follow a pattern used in daily life and not any isolated exercises.

In addition to this, a stiff low back may also increase the mechanical loading in the knee joint. Hence, it is very essential to work on the lower back flexibility and strength subsequently.

Remember, not just a well structured exercise routine but a consistent exercising discipline is also required to keep you off pain and increase your functionality. Exercising is an attitude.

(The author is a practising Sports Physiotherapist)

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