Knee pain: Natural treatments and physical exercises

16 ways to improve the pain in the Knees

If you wish, you could call it a "Gods lapse”. From the 187 articulations of the body, none of them brings so much pain to humans, as the knee pain.

At present, in consequence of the development of more activity, the risks for western people to have more knees problems increased proportionally

Another risk factor to increase the knees problems is the gain of weight of population in general, which will impose more friction on the knees.

Any people understands that there are a lot of daily activities that may affect the knees, like climbing to many stairs, wash the floor, slipper in the side walk on the street. The list is immense.

Part of the problem comes from the incapacity of the knee to adjust to the demand of actions that are required from the modern society with rigorous daily routine at professional and personal activities, where the human body is taken to the limit.

Dr James M. Fox, director of the Medical Center for Knee Diseases in Van Nuys, in California, and author of the book Save your knees, states that the knees are not well adapted to execute all the tasks and activities that we impose to them. Writes in his book: "not even were designed to play football – European or American – not either for car accidents, not either for plumber or carpenter, not even to stay seated or on the knees all day long. Originally was well designed and conceived, but there wasn’t any way to predict all the tasks and activities that we would impose to them.”

Below there is a list of simple advice that you can do in the comfort of your home to diminish the damages provoked by the countless abuses that innumerous people bring to their knees.

1-Diminish the load on the knees

Dr Fox explain us that the weight of the body is one of the main factors for causing knees problems. For each extra kilo that we gain, we multiply by 6 the tension in the region: increasing 5 kilos is equivalent to more 30 kilos that the knees need to support. For you to understand easily, in a big truck we do not put wheels of a normal car.

2- Do not use health devices or protections for the knees

This type of devices is normally found in sports shop, but according to specialists, is preferred not to buy them. Dr Fox: "Some of this device have the function of prevention but are in fact very complex and only conceived only for protection of some very specific cases. Its costs can go from 300 to 1000 USD. And the fact that people use easily this kind of products, also have the negative side of using something to remember them that they have a defect in the knees.”

Marjorie Albohm, a certified athletic trainer and associate director of the International Institute of Sports Science and Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, she is slightly more direct: "Forget the protections and knee devices that are bought in stores. Some of them makes worse than good for the knees."

3- Try a relaxing massage on the knee with pain

There are heat-producing wintergreen lotions that relieve the symptoms and convey a sense of comfort, "Dr. Fox explains. Knee wrapping in a plastic band after the application of the liquid can increase the heat produced by the liniment. However, the same doctor advises, should be caution to avoid burning the skin or causing irritation, and draws attention to the fact that liniments are not curative, but rather help treat symptoms and provide a better quality of life.

4- Use analgesic and anti-inflammatory herbs for Knee pain

To treat knee pain, can be used several herbal products to diminish the pain. One very famous natural Asian product worldwide is Tiger Balm, normally have one with warm effect, with the following ingredients: Paraffinum Molle Alba 38%, Para Canfora, Mentholum, Eucalypti 9,5%, Oleum Menthae 8%, Camphor 4%, Flos Cryophili 3.8%, Oleum cinnamon 1%, Oleum Camphori 1%. The other one with cold effect, have the following ingredients: Paraffinum Molle Alba 38%, Para Canfora, Mentholum, Eucalypti 20%, Oleum Menthae 8%, Camphor 4%, Flos Cryophili 3.8%, Oleum Mentha 3%%, Oleum Eucalyptus 3%, Oleum Camphori 2%. Normally the cold one is applied in anti-inflammatory conditions with pain, for better effects apply 2 or 3 times a day. The warm one is normally applied for conditions that the people feel good results when they apply warm or hot temperature on the affected area. For better effects apply 2 or 3 times a day.

Your therapist might also recommend using both cold and hot treatments to ease pain after exercising your knee, such as ice packs or a warm compress applied to the painful area. You can add first the hot or cold Tiger Balm, and after add hot or cold therapy.

5- Eating an anti-Inflammatory diet

Eating an anti-Inflammatory diet diet is important for overall joint health for a few reasons: it helps you to maintain a healthy weight, also reduces inflammation, to prevent diseases like arthritis or osteoporosis.
• Fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C.
• Omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fish, and eggs.
• Healthy fats in your diet like coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
• Antioxidant-packed herbs.
• Avoid excess sugar, hydrogenated oils (soybean oil, cottonseed oil), processed/refined grains, flour products, fast food, etc…

6 -Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

Certain herbs and supplements can help to reduce inflammation and support recovery from injuries or degenerative diseases. The best supplements for knee pain:
• Turmeric
• Glucosamine and chondroitin
• Collagen protein
• Omega-3 fatty acids

7- Strengthen the knee by exercising.

According to Dr. Fox, it is "only the muscles and ligaments that hold the knee in proper position." The strengthening of the first is a critical task because they are the true support structure. If they are not strong or resistant to stress, will cause problems to the knees. "
This means that sufferers of pain will always have to do a certain amount of exercise, even if they hate it. Stronger muscles provide stronger joints that can withstand the considerable exertion imposed on the knees when walking or climbing stairs. As Dr Fox observes, we only have two knees, and the spare parts available on the market are useless. The following exercises are not difficult to perform, and they bother much less than knee pain:

8- Isometric strengthening of the knee.

Continuing to report to Dr Fox, the quadriceps muscle and tendon of the leg curve are the elements to strengthen. And for the first one - the one in the front of the leg - the doctor recommends the following exercise: sit on the floor with the leg of the diseased knee straighten. Put a roll made with a towel under the curve of the leg and contract the muscles of the leg, but without causing the movement of the knee. Keep the contraction for at least thirty seconds and relax the muscle. Repeat this process for up to 25 exercises.

9- Leg elevations in sitting position.

We describe below the best process of performing leg elevations for those who have one or both weak knees. Sit with your back to the wall with a lumbar support cushion. (The backrest ensures that the leg muscles exert the levitation effort and, at the same time, no back pain.) Once the position has been taken, perform the isometric contraction described above for a count of up to five. Raise your legs a few inches from the ground, returning them to the starting position. Relax your muscles during the new count up to five. Perform the exercise in three groups of ten elevations each, always using the count with rhythm.

10- Auxiliary of biceps femoris muscle.

Increasing the strength of the knee not only implies the strengthening of the quadriceps, but also the muscles of the biceps femoris, located in the posterior part of the thighs. As Dr. Fox recommends, it is necessary to maintain the balance, because if only one of the groups is exercised, the joint will have to endure more effort. To strengthen the muscles of the back of the thigh, take the position lying belly down, chin on the floor. Attach a weight to the ankles, wrapping them, for example with a sock containing coins. Bend your legs, raising your knees. Raise the leg about 15 to 30 centimeters above the ground and lower it again with a percentage of movement before touching the ground. Repeat the movement, always executing it with slowness and firmness. Perform three sets of movements as comfortably as possible, based on the weight placed on the ankles.

A warning from Dr Fox: "It is important to have the notion that if an exercise causes pain or discomfort, you should stop right away. The body's reaction must be taken into account, and never fathom that "I have to endure the pain. There was some reason for God to give us pain. "

11- Change the level of exercise.

For athletes with chronic knee problems, Dr. Albohm recommends changing the level of training or daily activity. For example, if someone likes tennis and this exercise exacerbates knee pain, you should be advised to quit.

What are the options? Swimming, cycling, or paddling are healthy activities and do not require great strain on the knees. The motto is "unsupported activity of body weight". Indeed, by contributing to thigh muscle strengthening, activities that do not involve weight bearing in the body, in the cycling and paddling, improves the knees without sacrificing aerobic capacity or burning calories.

Whatever the daily activity, it is not justifiable to change a certain life style on the grounds that it causes pain in the knees. As Dr. Albohm rightly points out, one should not give up being active, since the goal is to avoid anything that causes knee pain.

12- Switch to a softer running floor.

For the usual runners, first of all the bad news. Dr. Fox says that most of the pains of runners are caused by tendinitis resulting from poor training habits. And now good news. According to Dr Fox, "these are not significant mechanical problems, because in general, they can be minimized by changes in running shoes or on the floor."

Consider first the running surface, and then the shoe problem. The question is summarized as follows: preferably running on the grass, rather than on the road asphalt. Avoid running on hard floors. For example, we suggest running on a golf course or in a grassy park. Dr. Fox also recommends that we keep in mind that when we run 1650 meters, we hammer the ground with our feet 600 or 800 times.

13- Make Rest and Ice on the knee area with pain.

Dr. Albohm advises that following an activity that causes knee pain, the affected region should immediately rest and apply ice and compression, keeping it elevated for about 20 minutes.
Ice is an effective way of controlling inflammation, and a very effective natural anti-inflammatory. Must apply it 3 times a day morning, afternoon and evening. When returning from the exercise, place the leg on a raised support, and surround it with a band, to keep the ice in the proper place for 20 or 30 minutes. This should be the first step towards pain relief.

14- Use heat in moderation for knee pain.

The use of a heating pad before starting an activity, if there is no local swelling, may contribute to the performance of the exercise with more supportive pain. However, warn Dr. Albohm, when there is swelling, or the possibility of arising, should never be used if the heat.
And he adds, you should not resort to heat after performing a activity. It is assumed that the exercise has caused local irritation, and the heat will only intensify that which has already occurred.

15- Do not wear worn shoes. Use good footwear.

"When running shoes no longer cushion the shock, they will resent their action on some side of the knee," says Dr Gary M. Gordon, director of racing programs at the University of Pennsylvania's Sports Medicine Center in Philadelphia. That is, the interior of the knee, through the foot and the tibia bone. And sometimes even higher, up to the hip and spine. Dr Gary M. Gordon advises runners that if they do more than 40 Kilometers a week, they should change their shoes every two or three months. If they run less than this, they need new shoes every 4 or 6 months. For aerobic dancers and basketball and tennis players who practice twice a week, changing shoes after 4 to 6 months is enough. If they do it 4 or more times a week, they needed new shoes after 2 months.

16- The importance of relaxation movements for knee pain prevention.

Quality must be given more important than quantity, in all that refers to physical exercise, we should take into consideration the importance of relaxation movements. Weak muscles and stiffness are two of the main problems associated with knee injuries.

Warmth and relaxation are essential, and it is recommended to take 10 minutes for stretching exercises, not those that are intended to obtain greater flexibility of the body, but those that have the purpose only a slight relaxation. They may be performed, for example, by the movements of any of the exercises which are usually carried out daily, but without forcing, doing it smoothly. Then do an aerobic exercise, for example, running slow in the same place, or a bit of walking. After this, stretch a little on the ground, and try to counterbalance the effect of the repeated exertions to which the knees were subjected.

Here is an example of an exercise to treat post-work rigidity: You should lie on your back, pulling your knees against your chin. Then extend one leg upwards, as if to push the roof with the heel. Prolong for 10 to 20 seconds, then rest. Repeat the other leg.

You also need to rest enough and give your body time to heal. Some people will need to take a break of several weeks from most exercises to heal a damaged knee, or limit high impact exercises of knee.

To protect yourself from injuring the knee, always warm up lightly and stretch before exercise. Before start running, biking or another knee-bending exercise, walk a quarter- to a half kilometer. After your physical exercise, should stretch again and to give yourself enough time to recover properly, around 1–2 days.
For people with chronic knee pain should do instead low-impact exercises. Examples of low impact workouts: swimming, water aerobics, brisk walking, elliptical training, cycling, yoga.

On the other hand, the following activities can negatively impact the knees and should be avoided: running, jumping, skiing, intense biking.

Posted by Dr. João Carrilho

Dr. João Carrilho
Doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine by Southwest Medical University, China.
Licensed Acupuncturist (N.0500096) and Phytotherapist (N.0400028) by the Portuguese Health Ministry.
Post-Graduated in Health Sciences at Oporto University, Portugal

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