Posted on Oct 16, 2020, 2 p.m.
Whether you're pain-free, recovering from an injury, or managing chronic arthritis, you can still protect your hips and knees and prevent additional problems by following these dos and don'ts according to Harvard Health:
Do choose low-impact exercise. People with arthritis or injuries should choose low-impact activities to stay in shape with less pain, but anyone who runs or plays high-impact sports can also benefit from alternating with lower-impact activities. Recommended aerobic activities, from lightest to heaviest impact, include
- cycling on a stationary bike, or outdoors on a level path
- using an elliptical machine with low resistance
- walking on level ground
Do seek help for joint pain. A culture of "powering through the pain" leads many people to ignore injured joints. Rest aching joints, and seek a doctor's advice if the pain doesn't improve.
Do use lighter weights at the gym. Strong muscles protect nearby joints. But instead of choosing the heaviest weight possible when doing lower-body exercises, choose one that lets you do a greater number of reps, to improve both stamina and strength with less stress to joints.
Do consider working with a licensed physical therapist. Physical therapists can recommend specific stretches and exercises for joint problems and will make sure you're performing them safely.
Don't follow personal trainers or exercise instructors who push too hard. Unfortunately, trainers are not always knowledgeable about anatomy and injury prevention. Never perform movements that cause you pain.
Don't do deadlifts, deep lunges, or deep squats if you have joint problems. These common gym exercises put enormous stresses on the knees, hips, and lower back. Use machines like the leg press instead (avoid locking your knees when extending your legs).
Don't be inactive. Short-term injuries require rest, but if you're dealing with ongoing joint pain, don't be tempted to stay on the couch. Inactivity can make knee and hip problems worse by decreasing flexibility and weakening muscles that support and protect the joints.
6 signs that it may be time to have a joint replaced
An ailing knee or a hip can make life miserable. Even if your doctor recommends it be replaced, you need to carefully weigh the risks and benefits before agreeing to this major surgery and understand that it will require significant rehabilitation to get back on your feet.
The most important factor in choosing to have a knee or hip replacement is how much it hurts and how much it is affecting your life. Here are six signals that it's time to have a knee or hip replaced:
- You can no longer complete routine daily tasks without help.
- You have significant pain, like pain that keeps you awake at night despite the use of medications, pain that keeps you from being able to walk or bend over, pain that isn't relieved by rest, or pain that isn't helped by non-surgical approaches.
- Your doctor says that less-complicated surgical procedures are unlikely to help.
- You have osteoarthritis and feel the disease is wearing you down physically, emotionally, and mentally.
- You are suffering severe side effects from the medications for your painful knee or hip.
- Tests show advanced arthritis or significant joint damage.
Finding the right surgeon and hospital can make a big difference to the success of your operation. In general, you're likely to have a better result and fewer complications if your surgeon performs the operation at least 100 times a year and operates in a hospital where replacements are routinely done.
If it's clear that joint replacement is a good choice, the questions below can help you decide whether a particular surgeon is right for you:
- Are you board-certified in orthopedic surgery?
- Are you fellowship-trained?
- How often do you perform this surgery?
- What kind of results would you expect for someone in my condition?
- What complications occur most frequently, and how do you deal with them?
- Do you usually work with a particular physical therapist or rehabilitation center?
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.