When your knee(s) hurt, it’s hard to stay active. Loss of mobility is no fun and can lead to poor health and decreased well-being. I write about knee pain a lot. I’ve been a personal trainer for thirty years. Over those three decades, I’ve seen quite a bit of knee pain and I’ve learned how to help people to feel better. I have a “Heal Your Knee” starter kit available as a free opt-in online (http://lesskneepain.com).
There are everyday positions that you probably find yourself in that can hurt your knees. With just a little adjustment in these activities/positions, you may find your knee pain diminishes or goes away. Bonus: the adjustments themselves are not only pain relief hacks, but they also help to improve mobility and increase strength.
First, let’s talk about sitting at your desk. Tucking your legs up under your chair for any length of time can lead to sore knees. Many people sit like this, even crossing their ankles under the chair. The problem is that the further you bend your knees, the more knee strain occurs. Sitting in that position for more than a minute can really lead to painful knees. You may or may not feel the knee pain at the time, but it accumulates.
Fortunately, all you need to do is undo the position following what I call the “90-degree rule.” The 90-degree rule means sitting with your ankles directly under your knees so that your thighs and lower legs create a 90-degree angle. It’s also fine and good to have your legs straighter than 90. You may catch yourself in the tuck position frequently and then make the adjustment. The movement itself—going from tucked under to 90 degrees—is friendly for two reasons: the first is because you are staying for a shorter length of time in the strained position, and the second is because motion is lotion to your joints and you are moving your knee joints.
Sitting for too long in any position, 90 degrees or otherwise, is not easy on your body. It’s best to get up frequently, as much as every 20 minutes or so. If you find that you have been sitting for a while and you are about to get up, fidget first. Straighten and bend your knees, squeeze your butt and stretch your spine. Then stand up. Your knees will thank you and your butt muscles will get stronger.
Driving can be hard on your right knee. My right knee is pretty trashed, so I use cruise control whenever possible. I notice that when I’m driving without cruise control, my knee will fall out, putting my knee, foot, and ankle out of alignment. To correct that I bring my knee back so it’s over my ankle, and then I try to straighten my foot. I notice this happening all of the time and so I correct it repeatedly. I am also aware of my left knee alignment, but it is not as critical for me. See what you notice about this for yourself and make any needed corrections. Just for fun, you can also do butt squeezes (in good alignment) while you are driving.
One more knee pain relief hack is your sleeping position. I had a friend with chronic knee pain and I gave her this tip and her knee pain improved dramatically. If you sleep on your side in the fetal position, open your knees to the 90-degree rule or try an “L” position with your legs straight. The bottom line is to notice any sustained positions where your knees are out of alignment (not over your toes) or bent a lot, and then try something else instead. Everybody is different, so pay attention to your body and how it feels. Be easy about this. Simply notice and correct when you think it’s a good idea to do so.
Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” (http://cinderernst.com/easy-fitness-book/), is available in paperback and E-book. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at http://cinderernst.com.
As seen in the San Francisco Bay Times: http://sfbaytimes.com/knee-pain-relief-hacks/