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Thrive After 55: 3 Tips for Healthy Knees

As a Personal Trainer, and after working for years in Physical Therapy, I know from many women that they can’t exercise or are limited to only walking because they have “bad knees.” As we age, it is common to experience osteoarthritis in the joints, especially the knees, as our cartilage wears away.

However, there are natural ways to prevent knee pain, keep osteoarthritis at bay, and build strength in our legs to improve mobility, strength, and even push a knee replacement way off into the future. 

Tip #1: Stay Active and Keep Moving! 

If you have osteoarthritis in your knees, you may notice they are very stiff and achy, especially if you are sitting for a long period of time such as in the car or at home. Your knees also may be stiff first thing in the morning. Our joints like motion because it allows the synovial fluid to lubricate them, like a natural oil can for your knees. 

When you drive, try to position yourself so that you aren’t too close to the wheel or too bent in your knees. Allowing a little more extension can take pressure off the joint. If you are going for a long ride, or sitting for a while at home, try doing some heel slides to loosen up the joint and get the synovial fluid to bathe the joint to ease stiffness and improve mobility.

Keep your foot on the floor and gently bend and extend your leg, sliding your foot along the floor. Move through a pain free motion and do about 10-20 repetitions. As you move, you should notice your knee bending and extending easier with less aches and pains. 

Another great way to loosen up the joint is to set a reminder to get up and walk every hour. This is another way to keep more motion in the joint. Even a short walk can make a difference! Do you have an activity tracker that reminds you to get up and get moving? 

Tip #2: Strength Training for Healthy Knees

As we age, our body loses muscle as part of the natural process of aging; that is, if we aren’t actively strength training or resistance training to maintain the muscle. This loss of muscle mass and loss of strength will place more strain on your joints.

Be sure to add some resistance training for your lower body 2-3 times a week with a few exercises of 8-15 reps and 2-3 sets. Check out this video for a few exercises to help you build strong knees and lower body:

Tip #3: Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce pressure on your joints. Losing a few pounds can go a long way toward reducing the pressure on your knees – and protecting them. Research has shown that every pound lost takes 4 pounds of pressure off your joints! It can feel like a catch 22 if you have pain in your knees and feel like you can’t exercise to lose weight.

Starting with walking is a great way to improve your mobility and burn calories. If walking on land is too strenuous for you, consider walking in the pool to reduce the pressure off your joints. Add in sideways and backwards walking as well as high marches standing in chest high water to work your muscles more while reducing the impact and increasing the buoyancy! 

Strength training is also proven to burn more calories than cardio, so adding resistance training exercises a few times a week will help you to work towards a healthy weight. 

Lastly, eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits, veggies, fiber, complex carbs, and protein. Protein can help to build and maintain muscle mass, especially as we age. Are you getting 25-30 grams of protein per meal? Try adding hemp heart seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds to your oatmeal, greek yogurt, or smoothies! Avoiding added sugar can help to reduce inflammation in your joints. 

Join me for a free Live Virtual workshop on March 16th at 12 noon EST to learn the best exercises and tips to help you get rid of knee pain and have healthy knees. Register for the Thrive after 55: Healthy Knees workshop here!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What is the current state of your knees? What do you do to keep them healthy? Do you think medication or movement works better – or do you use a combination of both?

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Patsy Trench

Thanks for the hints Aubrey, and the video, very useful. As a Brit I am fascinated by the word ‘tush’. Or should that be ‘toosh’? I will use it from now on.

And I would choose exercise, and diet, over medication any time, if possible. My knees are pretty cranky but I do a dance class, and walk as much as I can. and it definitely helps.

Mozell Brooker

Comernation òf both pills and exercise

The Author

Aubrey Reinmiller is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist, and Functional Aging Specialist focused on helping those over 50 to reinvent aging! She offers online small group and private fitness solutions through Aubrey authored Reinvent Aging: The Over 50 Fitness Guide to Improve Energy, Strength and Balance.

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