Overweight, a lack of exercise and a poor diet are substantial risk factors for osteoarthritis of the knee. Excessive strain can also cause osteoarthritis. That’s why it’s important to be gentle on your joints and to compensate for repetitive movements with variety. Find out in this article which exercises can help to protect your knee from excessive strain.
Monotonous, repetitive movements constantly subject the same muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments to strain. Standing, sitting or kneeling for extended periods is exhausting ‒ especially for the knees. Our largest joint is able to withstand enormous pressure but it also needs breaks to recover. If it has to endure too much for a long time, it is subject to strain and the cartilage may be damaged. In these cases, the diagnosis will then be osteoarthritis of the knee.
What causes excessive strain on the knee?
At work, this can include unfavorable, repetitive joint strain, which the body is subjected to for several hours each day over many years. Examples could be laying tiles or parquet. Tough physical labor at a construction site or in agriculture can also cause excessive knee strain and therefore advance the development of osteoarthritis. The same applies to standing and lifting a lot when working in retail.
Yet the knee ist not exclusively subjected to knee strain in a professional context, sport could also be an issue. Exercise in general is very beneficial ‒ essential actually in cases of osteoarthritis of the knee. Some activities, however, subject the cartilage and knee joints to a lot of strain. “No sports with quick changes of direction can be recommended,” Joshua Schirm, physiotherapist, remarks. This includes football, handball, hockey and basketball. With team sports, the opponent’s impact must also be considered: fouls, collisions and falls increase the risk of injury ‒ and therefore the risk of subsequent osteoarthritis.
This is because the trigger for osteoarthritis of the knee is often an injury that happened 10 to 15 years earlier and did not fully heal. This includes meniscus damage and torn cruciate ligaments, for example. Sometimes, even a microtrauma that was caused during a collision and damaged the cartilage is enough.
This means that osteoarthritis of the knee is frequently diagnosed also in active or former competitive athletes, not only in certain occupational groups.
How do you identify osteoarthritis of the knee?
The problem is: warning signs of osteoarthritis of the knee are often not noticed at first. Those affected only experience pain in an advanced stage of the condition. The knees make cracking and creaking sounds, taking the stairs is difficult and hurts, as does lifting heavy objects. Add to the mix start-up pain, i.e. pain during the first steps after extended periods of rest that then subsides again. In athletes, the joint can also swell after excessive training.
Self-test: Do you suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee?
With our osteoarthritis self-test, you can gain a better understanding of your knee pain and determine your individual risk of osteoarthritis. Afterwards, a visit to your physician can give you a reliable diagnosis.
What counteracts excessive knee strain?
Joshua Schirm, physiotherapist, recommends taking regular breaks. During the workday, it’s variety that makes the difference: change your sitting position every now and then, stretch and do some breathing exercises. You can also go for a walk during your lunch break.
The same goes for short exercises that can alleviate pain during everyday activities and mobilize the knee: for example, just leave your leg dangling from a table for about a minute when you’re sitting down. That relieves the knee and stretches the joint capsule, which alleviates pain. Or stretch both knees to their maximum ten times when you’re sitting to improve mobility in phases lacking motion.
After being subjected to strain, your joints need rest.
Which type of movements are beneficial for the knee?
Flowing movements where the joint is mobilized gently are beneficial for the knee. Cycling in low gears, swimming, going for a walk, or tai chi and yoga are perfect for osteoarthritis of the knee. Athletes are recommended to listen to their bodies, not to overdo the strain and to train the whole body in order to prevent osteoarthritis.
Whether during exercise or everyday activities: our supports can be a huge help. They are comfortable to wear, support the joints and provide the knee with stability and security during movement.