Knee pain from osteoarthritis (OA) is a fairly common complaint. Cartilage damage can occur from a variety of factors including injuries, aging, and certain illnesses. Keeping the muscles around the knee strong and managing weight are two of the typical strategies to reduce pain.
A recent analysis of data from two large studies of patients with arthritis revealed another potential tool to help keep pain in check. Patients who ate more fiber had fewer symptoms and less likelihood of knee pain becoming worse over time. This result is a correlation and not a definite cause and effect. However, I think it is another good reminder to eat well and get enough fiber in our diets.
From a Berkeley Wellness Newsletter Article, here are the numbers and this link is their List of Best Foods for Fiber.
People who consumed the most fiber—21 grams a day on average in the Osteoarthritis Initiative, and 26 grams in the Framingham study— had a 30 and 61 percent lower risk of OA symptoms, respectively, compared with people who ate the least. Higher fiber intake also reduced the likelihood of knee pain worsening among participants who had that symptom at the start of the studies.
For many people, the fast pace of daily life contributes to stress. In that case, slowing down – such as single tasking – can be beneficial. When it comes to walking, though, most of us probably need to speed up. Recent research from Oregon State University indicates that walking more briskly is better for your health than a leisurely stroll.
The study looked at the number of steps people took as well as how quickly they walked during their fastest 30 minutes of the day. Those 30 minutes did not have to be all at once – they could be broken up into smaller increments.
People who walked at a moderate to vigorous pace in their top 30 minutes had better health data. Their numbers were better for their chances of having common conditions like diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Ideally, the study suggests walking for a total of 30 minutes per day at a cadence of 100 steps per minute or more. The next time you take a walk, consider checking your pace to see how close you come to this guideline.
Knees take a surprisingly large load in activity. If your knees sometimes get crabby, Structural Integration may benefit you by improving alignment and releasing strains in your structure. However, I also think it’s important to pay attention to the strength of the muscles that support the knee. This video (also, below) from Hilton Head Health shows exercises that you can do at home without any special equipment.
Another helpful action, if one is carrying a few extra pounds, is to reduce weight. Even a little bit helps, as described in these statistics from a book by Dr. Louis Aronne.
- “For every pound of weight lost, there is a four-pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee with each step taken.”
- “Studies have shown that patients with osteoarthritis in the knee have improved function by 28 percent with a 10 percent weight loss.”
TPT’s Next Avenue: 9 Best Knee-Strengthening Exercises
Exercises from Knee Pain Explained
I think it used to be common that people would go for a stroll in the evening after dinner. A friend who visited Italy in her younger days still talks about how people in town went for a promenade in the evening. I saw similar activity when a friend and I were in Provence in 2007 (aside: my, how time flies!). Back home, it seems like only the dog owners are out walking around dinner time.
It turns out that going for a walk after meals isn’t just a pleasant social convention. A bit of low-intensity activity after meals helps keep blood sugar stable (article on post-meal activity). Stable blood sugar helps us avoid a number of long term health problems (Mayo Clinic blog).
Not sure what to do? Take an easy 10-15 minute walk, engage in active play with your child or pet, wash the dishes by hand or whatever else appeals. Just don’t stay seated. Once you’ve established the habit of getting 10-15 minutes of activity after dinner, see if you can add some movement after breakfast or lunch.
If you’re motivated to do even more, you can limit the amount of fast carbs you eat and focus on eating more slow-burning carbs (list of slow carbs).
Prolonged periods of sitting is bad for your health. Too much sitting has been implicated in the risk for a number of serious medical conditions and a reduced life span, along with muscle and joint issues. According to a recent article in The Washington Post:
… sedentary workers have more than twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a 13 percent increased risk of cancer and 17 percent increased risk of dying.
This article also says that our metabolism slows down 90% after 30 minutes of sitting and after 2 hours, good cholesterol drops 20%. These number amazed and, to be honest, scared me.
Resist the chair.
Exercising for a half hour, or even an hour, does not compensate for sitting too much. What to do, then? Stand more and move more, for 2 hours daily – and work up to 4 hours daily. Here are ideas to get you started:
- Meet friends for a walk instead of a meal
- Stand up when you’re on the phone, having a snack or on the bus
- Ask for (and use) a standing workstation for your computer
- Fold clothes or do stretches while watching TV
Mayo Clinic article on sitting risks
“Get Up!” by Dr James Levine
Washington Post article on study of sitting risks
Just Stand – a group raising awareness for healthy computing. The site includes quizzes to assess your sitting habits, facts/research, and products/tools
I think that I have noted previously in this blog that walking is one of the best activities for our body’s structure. Researchers continue to study the body in motion. Recently, scientists at Ohio State have learned how our feet respond to shifts in the pelvis when we walk.
Every step we take is a balancing act as the body falls forward and sideways, explained Manoj Srinivasan…
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-people-decode-foot-position-role.html#jCp
And, for my fellow engineers, see one of the oh-so-cool Cornell University walking robots.