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Six ways to prevent knee damage

Nearly 15 million people head to the doctor each year with complaints about knee pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Arthritis tears to the knee ligaments, dislocations and sprains are among the many conditions that affect this important joint that serves as the main hinge between the ground and your body. The knee is surrounded by a complex network of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscle. Keeping this system in top shape reduces the chances of pain and injury. Here are six ways to give this important body part the care it deserves.

Give your knees some support
There are many muscles that work with the knee during everyday activity. The quadriceps in the front of the thigh help extend the knee and support some of the body weight. The hamstring muscles assist with bending the knee and the gastrocnemius muscle in your calf works to propel the body. Exercising these muscles so they are strong can reduce strain and injury to the knees. When these muscles aren’t strong, they don’t keep the knee correctly aligned which can also cause unnecessary stress to the knee. A physical therapist can suggest exercises to keep this team of muscles supporting the knees.

Be kind to your knees
Exercise is good for knee health provided it is controlled. Being too zealous with squats and lunges can damage your knees. Don’t bend your knee beyond a 90 degree angle and keep your knee in alignment with your foot. When riding a bicycle, make sure your knee is straight when the pedal is at the lowest point. Learn how to exercise properly to avoid unintentional injury.

Avoid sudden impact
Although you may feel energetic, bounding up the stairs can be hard on your knees. Any sudden impact like jumping down to a lower level can damage your knees. Although your knees seem able to handle these sudden impacts, it may lead to future damage. Try to gradually increase the force during a time of intense activity instead making a sudden change. This allows the muscles to gain strength and handle the force better with less chance of damage.

Get knees ready for action
Warming up before exercise is important for all parts of the body, especially for your knees. Before you join the basketball game or hop on the bike for a ride, spend time waking up the muscles with gentle stretching, especially the muscles in the front and back of the thighs.

Wear shoes that fit
Flip flops, spike heels or flats not only cause damage to your feet, they also affect your knees. Shoes that don’t properly fit your feet set in motion strain to the ligaments and muscles as well as the knee cap. Properly fitted shoes are even more important if you are exercising or being active.

Watch your weight
Being overweight puts excessive strain on your knees. Every pound you gain puts about four more pounds of pressure on your knees when you walk or climb stairs, according to Sara Edwards, an orthopedic surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. A person who weighs 150 pounds can put up to 600 pounds of force on their knees when climbing the stairs. Excess weight can also increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis in the knee, a condition where the cartilage that cushions the knee wears away. Maintaining a healthy weight helps your knees remain healthy.

When damage does occur
If your knees or other joints have become too painful for normal activity, orthopedic surgery is often the best option. These procedures are only the first step in regaining mobility. The follow-up care and rehabilitation during a time of recovery can greatly affect the outcome. Focused care that effectively meets specific needs can mean a shorter and more effective recovery. The Orthopedic Pavilion at Glenview Terrace provides one-on-one physical and occupational therapy up to seven days a week for the best recovery possible. Every guest receives personalized attention from experienced therapists in gyms equipped with state-of-the art therapy equipment. Pain management, wound care and other medical needs are provided round-the-clock by attentive staff. There is also a discharge planner to make sure all needs are met when returning home after rehabilitation.

This effective level of care is offered in elegant surroundings with a wide array of amenities and services. Attentive concierge service, morning coffee and newspaper delivered to your room, wireless high-speed Internet, cable television and  restaurant-style dining are among the many services offered for orthopedic rehabilitation guests. Well-appointed rooms, diverse leisure activities and beautifully landscaped grounds are also part of a Glenview Terrace stay. If elective orthopedic surgery is in your future, consider recovering at Glenview Terrace. To schedule a tour or get more information, call 847-729-9090 or visit

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