How to Protect Your Knees from Injuries

1. When starting a new physical activity, don’t do too much too soon. Increase the intensity and duration of activity gradually. Take it easy at the first few practices if you aren’t in good shape.

2. Before any exercise or sports session, warm up by walking or riding a stationary bicycle, then stretching the muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) and back of the thigh (hamstrings).

3. Strengthen the leg muscles with exercises such as walking up stairs or hills or riding a bicycle. Or include leg exercises in a weight-training program.

4. Wear shoes that fit properly to maintain correct alignment of feet, ankles, and knees when walking or running. Knee problems can be caused by flat or overpronated feet (feet that roll inward). You might reduce these problems by wearing special shoe inserts called orthotics.

5. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight increases the risk of osteoarthritis of the knee.

6. Give your body time to recover from repetitive activities, which can fatigue the muscles around your joints and cause inflammation. Not allowing your body time to recover from repetitive activities increases risk of injury. Current strength training guidelines advise against working the same muscle group on consecutive days.

7. Recognize that some sports activities put greater stress on your knees than others. Downhill skiing involves sharp twists and turns and a potential for falls; basketball requires jumps and pivots.

8. Stop doing activities that result in pain or swelling. If the pain doesn’t go away or it returns and your activity is limited by the pain, you should see a doctor.

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