Oh, how our knees take a beating. That basketball you played when you were in high school. Jogging on concrete sidewalks. Chasing after toddlers. Standing all day at your job.
You get the picture.
After years of abuse, your knees are feeling it. This certainly isn’t the time to get rid of the good stuff (like playing with your grandchildren), but it’s probably time to part ways with some of the other things that your knees don’t need. Here are seven things you’re probably doing that you didn’t realize are causing knee pain.
1. Cleaning on your hands and knees. Sure, that’s the way mom taught you to scrub the floor. But it’s also why knee bursitis has been nicknamed “housemaid’s knee.” Buy yourself something like this, which didn’t even exist back when your mom made the rules.
2. Doing deep knee squats. If you do these exercises perfectly, they probably won’t bother you, but squats are very easy to get wrong. Why take the risk when you can achieve the same strengthening with other exercises? If you like doing squats, take a look at this tutorial in Women’s Health to make sure you’re doing them the right way.
3. Walking on the wrong surfaces. We all know that walking is good for us—and that it’s low impact. But have you given much thought to what you’re walking on? Hard concrete, asphalt and cobbled paths are tough on knees. Grass can be, as well, because it’s not a smooth surface. So what’s left to walk on? Dirt hiking trails and your local high school track are good options. You can still walk on the sidewalks in your neighborhood; just try to mix it up sometimes. (Walking on the beach in the Caribbean sure sounds good right about now.)
4. Eating too much. It’s a simple fact that if you’re overweight, the extra impact is taken by your knees. Not sure? Check out this body mass index calculator. Every extra pound you carry above your recommended weight puts an extra three pounds of pressure on your knees when you walk and an extra 10 pounds when you run. Over time, that pressure breaks down knee cartilage.
5. Wearing high heels. Sorry ladies, anything over two inches is bad news for the knees. But so are super flat shoes with no arch support. Shoot for the middle ground and, if you must, pack your heels in your bag and change upon arriving at your destination.
6. Pushing through the pain. If you’re injured or experiencing pain, your body is telling you to do something else. If running hurts, then walk. Mix it up two days a week by biking. If you crave the sweat of a good run, try the elliptical machine or walk on a treadmill set to a challenging incline.
7. Ignoring the pain. Let’s face it: A lot of us simply don’t like going to the doctor. Or maybe you just assume there’s nothing that can be done. The truth is that the field of medicine is constantly evolving. There may be treatment options available that you haven’t even thought about.
Knee pain is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you just have to live with it. Learn more about the different types of knee pain and when you should get yours checked out with our guide, When to See a Doctor for Chronic Knee Pain. Finding out what’s wrong is always the first step in getting better.