Kneejerk Reaction

By age 85, half the population can expect to develop knee osteoarthritis. But you can “bend” the stats in your favor with preventive care. Follow these guidelines to increase mobility, lessen pain, and perhaps avoid the surgeon’s knife:

Slim down. Need another reason to shed excess pounds? Turns out the odds of developing arthritic conditions increase if you’re overweight. With each step, the force on your knees triples, so reduce the burden by lightening the load.

Bulk up. Target the muscles that support your joints with exercises like quad–strengthening partial squats. With legs hip–length apart, lower yourself to 45 degrees, keeping your chest up and knees directly over your feet. Return to standing without allowing your knees to bend past your toes. Stair steps can also build strength, but avoid deep squats or lunges, which tend to overtax weak ligaments.

Supplement. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are gaining popularity for their pain-reducing benefits and cartilage support. Studies seem to back the claims, but experts warn that these supplements aren’t FDA approved or regulated, so it’s hard to say which brands or dosage will work best for you. As with other conventional medicines, if you’re taking a blood thinner like Warfarin, or have a history of liver, kidney, or stomach disorders, be sure to consult your doctor first.

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