Love makes you weak in the knees but it doesn’t hurt.
Many people suffer from knee pain—it’s estimated that by age 85, half the population of the U.S. will experience a knee condition.
If you are overweight or obese, that percentage rises to 66%. Lower extremity joints take a beating, supporting every standing movement.
Regardless of the cause of your knee trouble—whether due to athletic injury, osteoarthritis, or over-taxation—easing pain may be all you can think about.
Below is a video with a simple stretch to help.
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When it comes to joint health, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Keeping surrounding muscles strong will reduce joint stress.
- Maintaining a healthy weight will prevent excess strain.
- Sitting for long periods of time causes joints to lose mobility and generates pain; if you have to sit at your job, make sure you get up every 10 minutes or so—movement is crucial! The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides some stretches you can do at your desk here.
- Nutrition is important for joint health. Magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D are the nutrient trio responsible for bone health—make sure you get enough through foods you eat.
- If your knees hurt, stay away from vigorous exercise that will exacerbate the problem—“no pain, no gain” doesn’t apply here. Simple walking or pool aerobics will maintain mobility until you can comfortably do more.
- Be very careful stretching cold muscles—you can do more harm than good. If stretching as exercise to reduce pain, increase mobility, and promote blood flow, ease into it with slow movements. Warming up first is best if you can: a brisk 10-minute walk during a work break and followed by stretching will strengthen and invigorate. You can find additional exercises here.
Topical Treatments for Knee Pain
- Epsom salt is rich in magnesium – applying directly to a sore joint allows the skin to absorb this important mineral, reducing inflammation and easing pain. A whole Epsom bath makes everything feel better—magnesium is a calming mineral because it promotes the production of serotonin, a pleasure hormone. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in ½ a cup of water. Soak a cotton cloth with the mixture and place on the joint for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
- Ginger is a potent natural anti-inflammatory. A recipe for a ginger compress can be found here.
- Lemon peels can reduce swelling and promote blood flow. Grate a lemon rind, squeeze the bits together, apply to the knee, and cover with gauze for 2 hours for rapid relief.
- Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to joint pain. (1) Go outside in the sunshine for 20 minutes a day (without sunscreen, which prevents the skin from absorbing vitamin D) to get your recommended daily value of this essential vitamin.
- Coconut oil is a nutritious anti-inflammatory. Warm a teaspoon of solid coconut oil between your hands and rub your knees, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise for 10-15 minutes.
- Cayenne contains an anti-oxidant that inhibits pain transmitters. Arnica loosens joint for greater mobility. A double whammy when put together, a recipe for cayenne-arnica balm can be found here to reduce pain and inflammation.
Foods for Knee Pain
- Gelatin contains collagen, a component of bones and connective tissue. Increasing collagen can reduce pain and enhance mobility. Plain gelatin—not the sugar-filled popular brand—can be added to yogurt, a smoothie, or flavored with fruit juice, honey, or herbs and spices. Eaten regularly, gelatin is good for the knees.
- Herbs: boswellia, evening primrose, and stinging nettle reduce inflammation and pain.
- Spices: turmeric, cayenne, ginger, and cinnamon are potent anti-inflammatories.
- Vitamin D: few foods contain it and you’re better off not eating those enriched with the synthetic version—it doesn’t get used like the real stuff. Fatty fish like sardines, tuna, wild salmon, and mackerel; organic orange juice; mushrooms; and eggs are good sources.
Keep moving, eat well, get enough sleep, and maintain a healthy weight—the best prescription for preventing and alleviating knee pain.