The knee is the largest joint in the human body, allowing movement like walking, running, and jumping. Knees are under a lot of pressure, and without proper care, they can be susceptible to painful injuries. When your knees are in pain, it can be a challenge to keep doing the things you love. But there are things you can do to prevent pain in the future, and care for your knees if they are in pain now.

Why Are Knees So Susceptible to Joint Pain?
First, let’s talk a little more about what makes knees so vulnerable to injury. The knee is a critical and complex hinge joint in the lower body. It needs to be able to move in lots of different directions, and it can get injured if it twists or bends too much in the wrong direction. Knees also experience wear and tear with age, making them susceptible to osteoarthritis.

Physical fitness plays a part in how much pain your knees may cause you during normal movement. Knees support much of the body’s weight, and being overweight puts even more pressure on the knees. Those who are overweight should consider the effects that body weight has on the knees. Maintaining a healthy weight can relieve some of the pressure. One study found that women that lost 11 pounds or more reduced their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50%.

Besides maintaining a healthy weight, experts also recommend focusing on improving strength and flexibility of the knees as an effective way to prevent knee pain.

Strengthening Your Knees with Exercise
Strong muscles around the knees support them better during movement. There are lots of exercises you can do to strengthen these supportive muscles. Cardio exercise like swimming and biking can be great options. Don’t forget bodyweight exercises like hamstring curls, leg lifts and dips, and squats. You can find instructions for these exercises here:

For more guidance, it can be helpful to meet with a physical therapist or occupational therapist that can teach you exercises to strengthen your knees and suggest ways to modify your daily activities if any movements are causing you pain.

While exercise is great for your knees, be aware that the wrong kind of exercise could make things worse. The wrong kind of exercise includes exercises that put excessive pressure or strain on your knees. And you find that the pain is too bad, it’s OK to take a rest.

Protecting Your Knees with Stretching
Stretching the muscles around your knees (such as calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps) before and after exercise is essential to protecting them for injury. You should remember to stretch every time you exercise. Stretching helps with flexibility as well.

Caring for Your Knees in Pain
If your knees are in pain, that can be a sign that they need rest. Ice may help reduce inflammation, and over-the-counter pain medicines can be used with caution. There are also topical creams like CetylMax that may provide pain relief. If you have any questions about taking medications for pain management, consult with your doctor.

It is worth it to focus on healthy knees. Your knees will thank you for it.