Knee health: The worst exercises for knees and how to know if your workout is hurting your bones

Knee health: The worst exercises for knees and how to know if your workout is hurting your bones

It is said that we can strengthen our bones and joints by working out but what if our workouts end up giving us joint issues and tears due to our negligence? Pushing yourself too hard and not knowing when to stop can be detrimental for your bone health. So how do we know what’s safe and what’s not? We tried to seek answers from Dr. Ramneek Mahajan, Senior Director and Head of Joint Replacement Unit (Knee & Hip), Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi.
When does our body really start to decline?

Believe it or not, your body starts to decline after the age of 30. That decline is likely to get more aggressive after passing every year. After 40s with an inactive lifestyle, people are more susceptible to develop some health issues such as blood pressure, obesity, poor heart health, osteoporosis and arthritis. You may also start losing one percent muscle every year. It’s not too late to start a fitness journey. But you should avoid running in the beginning as it may put strain on your knee, hip joints and lead to abrupt bone fracture. It is best to go for brisk walking. HIIT exercising (high intensity interval training) is an effective way of getting fit, fast but there are potential risks that go hand in hand with it. While doing these exercises, you’re on your feet a lot so lower limb joints like knees, your ankles and your hips are more likely to be affected. In the early stage, you should refrain from overdoing it as it may cause soft tissue injuries to your joints. The ligaments, the tendons, and the muscles around the joints might get stretched, sprained and torn. So consult your doctor before beginning any new program if you suffer from hip or knee problems.

Worst exercise for people with bad knees
The worst exercises for people with bad knees are full-arc knee extension (using the machine at the gym), full-deep lunges, deep squats, and Hurdler’s stretches as these exercises put excessive strain on the knee joints, increasing pain and causing injury. If not performed perfectly, these exercises may also raise risk of injury. The best exercises to better strength, flexibility and knee function are partial squats, step-ups, side lying leg lifts, inner-thigh leg lifts, calf-raises, straight leg raises, short-arc leg extensions and hamstring stretching.

Reg flags to watch out for during workouts

Some people can experience muscle burn or sharp pain while working out, it can occur due to poor form, too heavy weights and even stretching incorrectly. Pain is like a signal, warning us to relax. If you push constantly, you’re more prone to injury. Weightlifting helps increase bone density and joint strength, which may lower your risk of osteoporosis and other skeletal issues that come with age. Lifting can be detrimental for your joints if you have poor form. Stop exercising immediately if you get injured and seek medical advice before doing a workout again. Overlooking weightlifting pain can lead to additional inflammation and trauma to the tissue in and around the joints. It can also cause more chronic degenerative issues over time like wear and tear of the joints and cartilage, degeneration of the tendons, and early-onset arthritis.

During exercise, your knee joints meet with additional pressure. It can harm the joint structures over time. High-impact exercise involving knees may raise risk of soft tissue tears and the wearing down of the protective cartilage that cushions your joints. The bones of your joint may start rubbing together without cartilage. It may create friction, causing persistent inflammation and ultimately chronic knee pain. Workout damage may also lead to joint deformities if neglected. Break away from weight machines as these may restrict specific muscles in your body from helping you lift, which can cause knee inflammation and pain.

Tips to safeguard knees while workout

If you’re new to exercise or already have difficulty with your knees, start with low-impact exercises (swimming or walking) before attempting strenuous activities like running or squats. Low-impact activities not only safeguard your knee from injury, but also make your joints strong over time, so you can harmlessly transition to higher-impact activities.

Warm up your knee joints with a slow jog or stretches appropriately before starting any workout. Warmups help to increase your blood circulation and lower risk for unintended muscle strains or tissue tears that may negatively affect your joint function.

Refrain from working out on cement or other hard surfaces as your knees may absorb the shock of your movements. Instead, try to work out on a soft track or a grassy area.

You may also opt for shoes with plenty of support or consider adding orthotics to protect your joints.

Seek medical attention if you suffer from knee pain that doesn’t go away with rest. You may be recommended to undergo nonsurgical treatments such as braces, physical therapy and certain medicine to alleviate joint inflammation in your knee. If required, you may have to undergo a joint replacement surgery. Nowadays surgeries are being performed using robots with added advantages over normal joint replacement surgery.

Diet to build strong bones

To make your bones strong, incorporating nutrients such as Calcium, vitamin D and protein is essential. You should eat a varied and healthy range of foods, including 3–5 servings of calcium every day as calcium is important for making your bones strong. Dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt), green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, bok choy, mustard greens, okra, spinach and celery are high in calcium) are great sources of calcium.

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Author: Shirley