How to Prevent and Treat Knee Pain

Knee function is controlled by more muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage than any other joint in your body. That’s one reason why it’s often the first joint to break down and cause pain. The other is that the knees are involved in virtually every sport or activity, making it the most common joint to suffer injury. On the surface though, the knee seems to be a wonderfully uncomplicated mechanism with a pretty simple job description: to bend and straighten your leg.

Knee pain comes in more varieties than Baskin-Robbins ice cream. Here are some possible causes:

  • It can be caused by a tear in a ligament, a tendon, a muscle, or a piece of cartilage, the cushioning that prevents two bones from rubbing against each other.

  • It is often the result of doing the same movement over and over again. Typically, you can’t trace it to a specific incident; it’s more likely the result of one bike-a-thon or skate-a-thon too many.

  • Knee pain is also sometimes affected or caused by a lack of stability and strength in the hips.

Cross training is a good way to avoid knee pain. By varying your exercise activities — running one day, cycling the next — you use different muscles, or at least you use the same muscles in different ways. You can still injure your knees with a cross-training regimen, so be careful not to overdo it.

If you do feel knee pain coming on, cut back on your exercise routine or switch to an activity that doesn’t aggravate the situation. Or, better yet, contact a qualified personal trainer to ensure that your form and technique are correct — improper technique is often the cause of joint problems. Some people with knee problems from running can bicycle with no pain whatsoever, and vice versa. Ice is always a good choice, too. But don’t mess around here. If pain persists, recurs frequently, or is caused by a single incident, get thee to a doctor ASAP.

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