Take care of your knees!
Our last post discussed back heath and proper lifting techniques. Directly related, and just as important, is knee health. Many of the same factors that apply to keeping your back healthy and in top condition apply to your knees as well. When working in production the stress and strain on your knees can be pretty heavy. Keeping them healthy is of utmost importance. So lets talk about what to do and not to do in order to get peak performance out of the largest joints in your body, your knees.
(*As always, the information presented here is in no way intended to replace a consultation with your doctor. Everybody is different and you should always consult a physician or relevant health care provider before any health and medical related decisions or endeavors).
Stay in Shape (not just for your knees!)
The first and most obvious thing you can do for your knees is to try and stay in shape in general. Not to sound preachy, but if your overall physical condition is good then excess strain on all of the moving parts of your body is diminished. In fact, you will be far more efficient overall in your work and your joints, knees included, will work better for you. Staying fit and keeping your weight down will ensure that your knees don’t bear the burden of undue stress and extra wear and tear just to keep you on your feet and working throughout the day.
Here are some ways body weight and personal fitness are involved in knee health:
With every step, two to four times your body weight is transmitted through your knee. The more you weigh, the greater the physical impact on the knee. And that’s before adding the weight of a speaker, heavy stands or any other equipment you may be carrying. So think of what your knees have to support with each and every step.
Stretching is incredibly helpful in keeping the knees in good condition. Stretching out and warming up the muscles around the knees can help take the pressure off the knees and kneecaps. Warming up and stretching the muscles in your calves, hamstring and quadriceps will alleviate a lot of stress on the knees. You can find some great recommended stretches here.
Exercise in general is always good, but in particular exercises that strengthen your knees and the surrounding muscle groups is of vital importance. Coupled with the above-mentioned stretching this will allow your knees to be far stronger and more agile, allowing you to be more efficient and safer in your work. Here are some recommended knee strengthening exercises.
Wear proper footwear
Generally, when we’re thinking of our knees, we don’t give much thought to what’s on our feet. But wearing proper footwear when working can have profound effect on keeping our knees in good shape while working.
Depending on what area of production you work in, you may be wearing boots or sneakers or some other type of shoes. To keep your knees happy there are a few things you should look for:
Try to wear a shoe that has little to no change in sole height between the toes and the heel. Differences in height can cause your muscles to have to work harder to keep your knees straight.
When possible, wear a more flexible shoe. One where you can easily flex your toes up towards the laces is good. More flexibility in your step will put less strain on the knees. Oftentimes, boots may be required for what you are doing and boots are not always the most flexible of shoes. Still, do what you can.
Most importantly, wear something comfortable, day in and day out.
Stand up straight!
Slouching is incredibly common these days. But when you slouch you are bending your body at the waist and causing your body to lean forward slightly. This means that your muscles need to compensate and work harder to keep you from literally tipping over. Ultimately, this will cause added strain on your joints, knees included. Hence, bad posture can lead to knee pain.
So stand up straight! Center your head over your shoulders and keep your shoulders centered over your pelvis. Having strong core muscles (abdomen and lower back) will also help you maintain good posture, so this goes hand in hand with the first topic we discussed, which is staying in shape.
Bottom line, don’t make your body work harder than it needs to!
Now that we’ve discussed how to keep your knees healthy, in our next installment we’ll discuss how to prevent knee injuries while working. Until next time, stay safe and sound!