No one wants to be in pain or have an injury, but much like lots of things in life its unavoidable at some point. How can you avoid doing yourself harm and reduce the risk of having a knee problem!
The lockdown has been a world-wide phenomenon and we all have experienced this collective want and desire to get out and feel a little bit of freedom. Exercise has long been shown to help reduce anxiety and be very powerful in boosting your feel-good chemicals in the brain - dopamine - to help with your mental health as well as being good for your physical health.
Everyone is on a different level with regards to their fitness level. What's super important is to not worry about that and get out and do something. Every little helps. Taking a walk when you would have driven, run when you might have walked. Bump up your normal exercise regime a notch.
This is when we need to get into some tips to avoid doing harm.
1. Choose your Exercise Wisely
We want this to be the opportunity to change your habits for good, not just a quick burst of enthusiasm and then back to the old ways. Choose an exercise you love doing so it’s fun and not a chore. You want to be looking forward to it. If you have a knee problem already its best to avoid impact type activities such as running. Stick to a bike or swimming - but avoid the breaststroke as this is often uncomfortable with osteoarthritis. If you love running but struggle, try soft forest runs rather than the road. Remember the benefit from doing the exercise will far outweigh any harm.
2. Buy the Gear!
We all love buying new shiny things! This provides us with just that opportunity. Having the right equipment is vital to prevent harm. Those trainers you bought in the 80s are good for the bin, splash out on a new pair that will cushion, support and protect your feet. If you really get into your exercise, pay a visit to a good running shop or sports shop and have then fit your shoes properly to your sport and feet. We are thankfully all different and that includes your legs and feet! The same goes for your clothes. The more comfortable you are the more you will enjoy the activity.
3. Warm Up!
As much as you are raring to go and can't wait to do that Iron Man or Olympic standard triathlon, slow down a little and warm up first. Stretching and gradual progression into the exercise with allow you to do more, achieve bigger gains in fitness and prevent harm. This also counts for building up to the bigger and faster forms of exercise gradually when your body is ready. If you move it up and you struggle, don’t despair, click it back down for a while longer and try again later. It’s better to move back a level than to hurt yourself and have to give up!
4. Stay Hydrated
The old adage of no pain no gain does not fly in the orthopaedic world! Pain is bad! Make sure you feed your body what it needs. The number one need is water when exercising. Without it you are asking a lot from your kidneys and muscles. Post exercise muscle pain is not fun and keeping hydrated will help them recover more quickly and allow you to get back to that next run faster. Cramp is bad and your bodies way of telling you to drink more. No need for fancy supplements, good old tap water frequently is all that’s needed. Oh, and maybe a cool new bottle to put it in to make you feel great!
5. Vary your exercise and know when to stop!
As you do more and your body gets fitter, what on day one was a struggle becomes a breeze! This is fab, it means all the hard work is paying off! However, our bodies are great at building muscle and stamina for that particular exercise. If you want to really challenge your body and have all round fitness vary the type of exercise you do! Another fantastic excuse to buy that carbon road bike you’ve always wanted, or that new tennis racquet! Equally know when to stop. Those happy chemicals in your brain from that exercise can get addictive and push you to want to do more and more. We all have limits, listen to your body and work as a team. If it says stop, STOP! If you do have an injury remember RICE, Rest, Ice, Compression and elevate! Ice packs and cold compression devices are brilliant for a situation just like this.
I hope these small tips are useful and help you get to the level you want. If you do ever have an issue or injury, we here at Wessex Knee are happy to see you and help you back to where you want to be. Happy exercising!