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Exercise

Age-Proof Your Knees

Increase range of motion. “Most people’s joints get stiffer with age, and there’s clear evidence that people with better motion have fewer symptoms, especially if they can straighten the knee. So it’s important to work on getting the knee straight,” Dr. Richardson says. He recommends working with a physical therapist to improve range of motion. For an exercise to try at home, he suggests sitting on a bed or floor, putting a pillow under the ankle, and using your leg muscles to force the knee down gently.

A few more tips

Dr. Richardson says some activities can make osteoarthritis symptoms worse, such as standing on a hard surface or squatting for a long period (while gardening, for example). “Squatting can irritate the soft cartilage meniscus of the knee. Avoid long periods of time with your knees bent deeply,” he warns.

Instead, wear cushioned shoes or gel inserts if you have a job or hobby that involves standing on hard surfaces, and use a low stool to sit on while gardening.

Avoid high-impact activities such as jogging and aerobics classes that involve jumping. Go for non-impact exercises, such as indoor or outdoor cycling or using an elliptical trainer.

Dr. Richardson also advises that you keep your goals of better knee health in mind, as incentive. “Maybe it’s just climbing the stairs, going for a walk, or crawling on the floor to play with the grandkids,” he says.

Image: © jacoblund/Thinkstock, courtesy of Marvard Medical School.

This article originally appeared here.