The knees are the largest body joints, and they are responsible for the stability, support, and flexibility of the legs, so they help us walk, run, jump, stand, crouch and turn around.
This means that you should take proper care to maintain their health in order to prevent serious issues, as weak knees affect the mobility and significantly impedes everyday activities.
Knees weaken with age, so elder people more commonly face problems with them, however, any person regardless of the age can experience such problems.
The weakness in the knees may be a result of various factors, including sedentary lifestyles, smoking, knee strain or injury, excess sodium intake, alcohol, or an osteoarthritis in the knee, which is caused by tear and wear on the knee parts.
Weak knees or pain in the knees may be treated naturally, through lifestyle and dietary changes. Here are 10 ways to strengthen the knees and avoid such problems:
Calcium is of highest importance for the bones, so its deficiency leads to thinning and weakening of bones, and thus, to osteoporosis. As our body does not produce calcium naturally, you need to supply it through supplements and dietary sources.
Calcium can be obtained through edamame, cheese, milk, almonds, dark leafy greens, sardines, calcium-fortified cereals, blackstrap molasses, and fortified orange juice.
In case you decide to take it through supplements, make sure you choose the ones with vitamin D as well, as it helps the calcium absorption. Your doctor will recommend the proper dosage.
- Anti-inflammatory Foods
Pain and weakness of knees may also be caused by inflammation, so you should consume anti-inflammatory foods, which include spinach, ginger, turmeric, walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, olive oil, avocados, tart cherries, blueberries, and sweet potatoes. On the other hand, you should avoid inflammatory foods like soda, white rice, sugary foods, white flour products, and foods high in saturated fats.
The low-impact aerobic exercise swimming can be of great help in the case of knee pain and arthritis, as it is an overall fitness, and strengthens the bones, the muscles of the knee joints, and reduces the stiffness of the knees.
You should swim 30 minutes on a daily basis, and the most effective swimming strokes are butterfly stroke, backstroke, and front crawl. You should also avoid breaststroke, as it applies great pressure on the joints of the knees.
Exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee and thus improves their condition. It also strengthens the knee bones and positions and aligns the joints.
Some of the most beneficial exercises include knee bends, lunges, straight-leg raises, step-ups, hamstring stretches with thigh contraction, single-leg squats, and squats with a Swiss ball.
You should perform these exercises half an hour, 4-5 times a week. In case you experience pain or stiffness, consult your doctor for another treatment.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is vital for the formation of the main components of knee cartilage – collagen. It is crucial for the proper development of bones, for the quality of bone matrix, and synthesis of collagen.
Additionally, it reduces the risk of fractures and enhances the bone mass density.
You can either take it in the form of supplements, such as capsules and chewable tablets, according to the advice of your doctor, or you can increase its levels naturally, by consuming foods like lemon, spinach, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, oranges, papaya, kiwi, strawberries, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
- Epsom Salt
In general, people with weak knees, or the ones who experience knee pain due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis, have extremely low levels of magnesium.
Therefore, since Epsom salt is high in this mineral, it can significantly reduce the intensity of the issues. It alleviates the inflammation around the knee joints and enables a proper functioning of muscles since it supports the calcium absorption.
You should dissolve 2 tablespoons of it in half a cup of water, and soak a washcloth in the solution. Then, apply it on the knees, and leave it thus for 15-20 minutes, and rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat this twice a week.
Furthermore, you can enjoy an Epsom salt bath once or twice a week. Just add a cup of salt in a warm bath, and soak in it for at least 20 minutes.
- Vitamin D
Since it is a threshold nutrient for a perfect health of the joints and bones, the deficiency of this vitamin causes an increased risk of minimal trauma fractures and bone loss.
Also, if the body lacks vitamin D, it will not be able to absorb enough calcium. The body produces this vitamin when exposed to the sun, so make sure you spend at least 15 minutes a day under the sun, early in the morning.
Other sources of this vitamin include dairy products, fish, cod liver oil, fortified cereals, and egg yolks. Your doctor may also recommend some supplements.
A massage therapy is another effective way to treat knee pain and strengthen the knee area. If done regularly, it will improve circulation and provide more nutrients.
Rub the knees with firm, but gentle movements, using warm coconut, mustard, or olive oil, clockwise and counter-clockwise, for 10-15 minutes. If needed, massage the area twice a day. In case you suffer from a chronic knee pain, you should consult an experienced massage therapist.
- Fish Oil
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which enhance the bone density and strengthen the joints of the knee. It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties, which alleviate the stiffness and joint pain.
According to a 2006 study, published in The International Journal of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience, subjects who took EPA from fish oil in amount of 1,200 milligrams consume cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel twice a week, or take up to 6 grams of fish oil, (at least 30% DHA/EPA) two times daily.
- Healthy Weight
Excess body weight applies much more pressure on the knees, as joints need to do much more work, and they weaken. Obesity raises the risk of hip or knee replacement. Therefore, it is of great importance to lose excess pounds in order to enhance the strength and stability of the knees.
You should also follow these additional tips:
- You should not wear high-heeled shoes
- You should not smoke and drink
- You should not stand or sit in the same position for a long time
- Yoga poses provide great relief
- You should drink more fluids to soften the cartilage
- Avoid activities that intensify the knee pain
- Cycling and walking greatly strengthen your knees
- Limit the intake of salt, as it causes calcium loss
- Avoid practices which include sudden movements, twisting, stopping, jumping