Recent research into causes of knee pain in middle age show the importance of muscle strengthening.
If you are over 50, you are also likely to be someone who’s getting pain in the knees. Knee pain can be caused by all sorts of things, from arthritis to conditions that have long names like patella-femoral syndrome, which just hide the fact that doctors haven’t a clue what’s going on.
One of the risk factors for pain in the knees is being overweight or obese. And when people are heavy they also tend to exercise less. So, the question is whether weight loss and muscle strengthening can help?
A recent trial randomly assigned overweight and obese people aged over 45 with knee pain into four groups: a weight-reducing diet, knee exercises designed to strengthen the quadriceps (those are the muscles on the front of your thigh), combined diet and exercises, and a control group – who just got an advice leaflet.
Over a two-year follow-up, the quadriceps exercises were associated with a significant reduction in knee pain, while weight loss wasn’t – although the people in the trial only lost an average of 3kg, which may not be enough for the average knee. People who lost weight, however, did feel less depressed. Nine people had to strengthen their quads for one person to benefit.
So while any weight loss is a good idea for health overall, for your knees you need to get those thighs working.
Title: British Medical Journal
Author: Jenkinson CM et al. Effects of dietary intervention and quadriceps strengthening exercises on pain and function in overweight people with knee pain: randomised controlled trial.