One in four American adults experiences knee pain, and the number is rising. If you don’t have knee pain now, chances are high that you will at some point in the future.

Your family history influences whether or not you’re likely to have knee pain, but your daily habits matter, too. At Dr. Louis Keppler and Associates, our providers have noted some common themes among patients with knee pain. Making relatively small changes to your lifestyle may be the key to having less knee pain.

The following seven mistakes can lead to less mobility and more pain. Don’t worry, though. Most of these mistakes are easy to correct!

1. Wearing unhealthy shoes

You may associate shoes with foot pain, but the wrong footwear can also lead to pain in your knees. But what is a “healthy” shoe?

You may have heard debates about whether you need a supportive shoe with a thicker sole or a thinner, flexible shoe that allows for more movement. A recent study showed that regular walking in a supportive shoe yielded better results—less knee pain—for adults with knee arthritis compared to regular walking in a thinner, more flexible shoe. Regardless of the level of support your shoes have, they should fit comfortably, with plenty of room in the toe box.  The other key part of the study was the “regular walking,” which leads us to the crucial role of exercise in managing knee pain.

2. Not exercising regularly

One of the best things you can do for your joints, including your knees, is to keep the muscles that support them strong. Regular physical exercise delivers results. Walking, and other cardiovascular exercise helps, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking each week.

Along with cardiovascular exercise, though, you should do some resistance training to build strength. Flexibility training, such as yoga, tai chi, or simply spending time stretching is another often-neglected activity.

3. Not warming up and cooling down

When you do exercise, you should take some time to properly warm up your joints and muscles to avoid injury. As we age, our tendons and ligaments become more fragile, so even if you didn’t warm up as a high school athlete, you should now. After exercise, take a few minutes to let your heart rate come down. Try to stretch while your muscles are warm. You can reduce the amount of lactic acid, which can cause soreness, too.

4. Skipping the stretch

We’ve mentioned it twice now, so it must be important: stretching. Whether you take a class like yoga or tai chi, or you choose to dedicate time after each workout to stretching, flexibility training is absolutely crucial to keep up your range of motion and mobility.

5. Carrying extra weight

Even being a few pounds overweight can affect your knees. If you think about the fact that your knees not only support your body weight, they also absorb shock with every step you take, you can see why maintaining a healthy weight can ease the pressure on your knees.

6. Poor posture

Posture isn’t just about how you look. Proper alignment and good posture help to prevent excessive wear and tear on your joints. When you practice good posture, all the structures that support your joints can work more efficiently and effectively.

7. Thinking “it’ll go away”

Are you the sort of person who powers through pain? Or were you taught the adage “no pain, no gain?” When it comes to knee pain, neither mindset is helpful, and could actually cause harm.

If you notice knee pain, swelling, or tenderness, make an appointment at Dr. Louis Keppler and Associates. Early intervention is often one of the most important factors in limiting the amount of pain you feel or the progression of joint degeneration.

 Dr. Keppler is a practicing surgeon and member of the following organizations:

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