Did you know that the largest joints in our body are knees? They provide support, flexibility, and stability in our legs so that we can walk, stand, run, jump, crouch, and turn around easily. Therefore, it is of great importance to keep these large joints in our body strong and healthy.
Although usually older people have knee problems as their knees weaken with age, people at virtually any age can as well experience problems with their knees. Weak knees influence a person’s mobility, and impede his/her everyday activities, such as walking downhill or lifting boxes.
There are various reasons that can lead to weak knees. Some of them are nutritional deficiency, an injury or strain on the knees, excess sodium intake, a sedentary lifestyle, drinking, smoking, or as a result of osteoarthritis in the knee. Knee osteoarthritis can result from tear and wear on its parts.
In case you suffer from knee pain or weak knees, you can strengthen them with the help of some dietary and lifestyle changes.
These are the best 10 ways to strengthen your knees.
1. Exercises for Knee Strengthening
There are a lot of exercises that can improve the condition of your weak knees, by strengthening the muscles around them, keeping the joints properly positioned and aligned, and strengthening the bones in knees. Such exercises include lunges, step-ups, hamstring stretches with thigh contraction, single-leg squats, knee bends and squats with a Swiss ball, and straight-leg raises.
Try to learn the knee exercises from an expert, and do them half an hour a day, at least 4-5 times per week. However, if you notice your knee stiffness or pain increases with these exercises, stop doing them and visit your doctor to see which ones are suitable for your condition.
Another effective way to strengthen your knees and address your knee pain is a massage therapy. You will make your muscles and joints stronger since regular massage will enhance the circulation, providing them with more nutrients.
Use warm mustard, olive, or coconut oil to rub your knees with gentle yet firm movements. Massage in both clockwise and counter-clockwise movements for about 10-15 minutes. Repeat twice a day when needed. Consult an experienced massage therapist if you have chronic knee pain.
3. Epsom Salt
It is known that people with weak knees, or those who have knee pain as a result of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis, usually have extremely low magnesium levels. Therefore, Epsom salt which is rich in magnesium, is highly recommended to decrease the unpleasant feeling. This salt can quickly lower the inflammation around the knee joints. Moreover, magnesium is also needed for proper functioning of muscles as it can help the absorption of calcium.
In half a cup of warm water, dissolve two tablespoons of Epsom salt. Apply the solution on your knees using a washcloth, and let it act for 15-20 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water. Do this once or twice a week. Another alternative is to prepare a warm Epsom salt bath with a cup of Epsom salt, and to soak your body for at least 20 minutes. Enjoy this bath once or twice per week.
People who suffer from knee pain or arthritis can benefit from the well-known low-impact aerobic exercise swimming. Besides improving the overall fitness, swimming can strengthen the surrounding muscles of knee joints, lower the knee stiffness, and strengthen the bones.
Try to swim about half an hour a day, 5 days a week. Swimming strokes beneficial for knee joints are backstroke, front crawl, and butterfly stroke. Make sure you avoid breaststroke, since it puts a lot of pressure on the knee joints.
Our bones require calcium for their optimal health, so a lack of calcium can result in weakening and thinning of the bones, leading to osteoporosis. Since human’s body isn’t able to produce calcium naturally, the best options to prevent calcium deficiency is through dietary sources and supplements.
You can obtain calcium from the following natural ingredients: milk, dark leafy greens, almonds, cheese, edamame, calcium-fortified cereals, sardines, blackstrap molasses, and fortified orange juice. If you go with calcium supplements, go with one which also includes vitamin D to help the calcium absorption in the body. Consult your doctor for the proper dosage.
6. Vitamin D
This vitamin is regarded as a threshold nutrient for optimal joint and bone health. Lack of vitamin D can lead to bone loss and raised risk of minimal trauma fractures. What’s more, our body is not able to absorb sufficient calcium amount without proper amounts of this vitamin.
Since the human’s body produces vitamin D in sunlight exposure, it is recommended to expose your knees to sunlight early in the morning, for about 15 minutes a day. Another way to get this vitamin is to consume cod liver oil, fish, fortified cereals, egg yolks, and dairy products. If you decide to go with supplement, consult your doctor.
7. Fish Oil
The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) contained in fish oil can help improve bone density and strengthen knee joints. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can even lower the joint pain and stiffness.
The International Journal of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience has published a 2006 study which says that people who took EPA from fish oil in amount of 1,200 milligrams on a daily basis, noticed improved joint health. Consume cold-water fish like mackerel, tuna, and salmon twice a week.
Another option is to consume up to 6 grams of fish oil, two times a day (make sure it is at least 30% DHA/EPA). Consult your doctor before you start taking any supplement.
8. Vitamin C
This vitamin is crucial for the formation of one of the main components of knee cartilage – collagen. It is important for the quality of bone matrix, synthesis of collagen, and normal development of bones. Vitamin C improves the mass density of bones, and decreases the risk of fractures (1) (2).
Good dietary sources of vitamin C are bell peppers, broccoli, lemon, oranges, papaya, strawberries, berries, kiwi, spinach, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Consult your doctor before taking supplements in the form of chewable tablets and capsules.
9. Healthy Weight
Overweight people put much more pressure on their knees because of their heavy weight. This increases the work of their knee joints, and makes their knees weak. Moreover, obesity raises the risk of hip or knee replacement.
Overweight people should try to lose weight in a healthy way, for many health reasons, one of which is improving the stability and strength of their knees.
10. Anti-inflammatory Foods
Inflammation can cause weak and painful knees, so to fight this condition you should consume more anti-inflammatory foods. Some of them are flaxseeds, salmon, olive oil, turmeric, ginger, tart cherries, avocados, blueberries, spinach, sweet potatoes, and walnuts.
Also, make sure you omit inflammatory foods such as white rice, white-flour products, soda, sugary foods, and foods rich in saturated fats.