How to Care for Aching Knee Joints

Do you wake up in the morning with aching knees? Do your knees hurt every time you run, jump, and play? I'm fortunate enough not to have regular knee problems, but every once in a while I need to care for my knee joints when they start acting up. It's pretty simple to care for your knees, and you'll be able to prevent injuries or strains from worsening with just a few precautions.
Recent Injury Care
If you've just injured yourself while playing sports or working, try:
  • Raising your knee -- You'll want a Tempur-Pedic or if you want a natural version, an Essentia , as you're going to spend a few hours or days on your back - depending on the severity of the injury. Place a pillow under your knee, and raise it as high as you comfortably can. It helps to reduce swelling, and you should try to sleep with a pillow under your injured knee as well.
  • Wearing a bandage --  Using an ACE bandage or an elastic sleeve on your knee will add compression, which will reduce the swelling. Swelling actually stops your body from being able to repair the knee.
  • Applying ice -- Ice is a very important thing to use if you have an injury that is going to swell up. Once again, you want to avoid swelling, and ice basically freezes the damaged tissue in order to stop the inflammation. Apply it for about 15 minutes, and take it off your knee for 45 minutes. Repeat the process for about 6 hours.
  • Resting -- You have to stay off your knee in order to give it time to heal. You may be able to hobble around on crutches, but keep your weight off the injury. 
Overuse Strain
When you do a lot of physical activity, you may strain the knee or overuse it. To avoid this problem:
  • Stretch Before and After -- If you fail to stretch out the knee before you workout, cycle, run, or train, your risk for injury is much greater. Make sure to warm up before exercise, and cool down  after you're done.
  • Avoid Impact Sports -- Those with knee problems should consider swimming or cycling as their best options for exercise. Running and jogging involves a lot of impact on your knees, and it can lead to worse damage. Go for low impact exercise options.
  • Run Right --If you are going to run, make sure to do it right. Avoid running on concrete, but only run on grass, dirt, and running tracks. Avoid running down hills, but walk down any hills to reduce the strain on your knees. Spend less time running, and don't push yourself too hard. Be sure that you have enough support for the arches of your feet, and find a good pair of shoes with plenty of cushioning.
  • Lose Weight -- Being overweight can place even more strain on your knees, as the excess weight is all resting on the joint. You put 5 pounds of pressure on your knees for every pound of excess weight, especially when you climb stairs. 
Taking care of your knees is so important, as they are one of the weakest joints in your body - but are in such an important location!
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