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It’s easy to think that knee replacement surgery is an inevitable part of the aging process. However, just because they’re common, that doesn’t mean it’s only a matter of time until it’s your turn.

Thomas Calton, MD, is a leading orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee surgeries, including joint replacements, at Utah Orthopedics in Ogden, Utah. He suggests taking these five steps to help protect your knees, prevent pain, and avoid the need for surgery in the future.

1. Lose excess weight

The most important thing you can do for your knees involves maintaining a healthy weight.

As weight-bearing joints, your knees sustain an incredible amount of pressure with every step you take. In fact, for each extra pound you carry, your knees have to bear an added four pounds of force. And this pressure only increases during activities, such as going up or down stairs.

Even being 10 pounds overweight can add 30-60 pounds of pressure on your knees. To help spare your knees from this added wear and tear, shed those extra pounds to reach an ideal weight.

2. Move your body

If you need another excuse to stay active, do it for your knees. Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining joint function. For the best results, include plenty of activities that will improve your range of motion and build muscle in your legs.

Among the exercises Dr. Calton recommends are the following:

  • Walking
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Squats and lunges
  • Pilates
  • Yoga

Furthermore, mix up your workouts and provide plenty of time for recovery in between.

3. Practice good posture

You may wonder what your posture has to do with your knees, but they’re inextricably linked. Slouching or stooping can change your body’s center of gravity, which, in turn, can put added force on your knees and hips.

To reduce unnecessary pressure on your knees, start by standing tall. Then, align your head over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, your hips over your knees, and, finally, your knees over your feet.

You can also improve your posture by practicing core strengthening and balancing exercises, such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi.

4. Wear the right shoes

You can’t take good care of your knees without a strong foundation to stand on, and that means choosing the right shoes. While this may seem important mainly from a cushioning standpoint, having an abnormal foot posture can lead to the development of osteoarthritis in the knee.

Whether you’re heading off to work or out on a run, wearing comfortable shoes that promote proper alignment and provide support can help reduce unnecessary wear and tear on your joints. You should also avoid wearing high heels and poorly fitting shoes.

5. Stop if it hurts

We’ve all heard the phrase “no pain, no gain,” but this concept can cause more damage than good. Instead, if you experience pain or swelling in your knee, stop what you’re doing and take a break.

If your knee starts hurting or swelling, Dr. Calton recommends giving it the RICE treatment. RICE stands for the following:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

If it doesn’t respond within a week or two, schedule an appointment for an assessment. And when you resume activity, choose gentle options, such as swimming, water aerobics, or bicycling.

To discuss more ways to avoid knee replacement surgery, or to see if you may need knee replacement surgery, book an appointment over the phone with Utah Orthopedics today.

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