When it comes to knee pain remedies at home, you don't have to look far to find solutions that can really help. And whether you're dealing with chronic knee pain or are a first-time sufferer, you're in good company: Knee pain makes up more than 33 percent of all doctors’ visits for muscle and joint pain. But before you head to a doctor, first try a few safe, natural cures from the comfort of your own home. You may start feeling noticeably better right away — and save yourself a costly trip to the doctor.
Stand tall. According to physical therapist Rick Olderman, when you stand and shift your weight to one side, you’re putting a surprising amount of pressure on that leg’s knee joint. “And because women tend to be more flexible than men,” he says, “their knees can almost literally get bent out of shape.” The no-doctor fix? “Just stand with your weight evenly over both feet,” he says. “It’s the quickest and easiest way to take pressure off your knees.”
Walk uphill for five minutes. Believe it or not, a strong butt can take pressure off your knees. It’s kind of like a chain reaction: The stronger your butt muscles, the more strain they take off your thighs when you walk — which, in turn, takes a whole lot of stress off your knees, he says. A sure way to strengthen your bottom? Just walk uphill for a few minutes each day.
Put your feet up. Literally. If you have pain in the knee, lie down, “take a couple of pillows and elevate them to the level of your heart,” advises orthopedic surgeon Miho J. Tanaka, M.D. This simple knee pain remedy move pushes back the fluid collecting in the knee that causes swelling. Not hurting? Put your feet up anyway and relax, urges Olderman. Chronic stress can trigger pain by causing the tissues around the knees to tighten.
Apply arnica gel. Studies confirm that arnica gel — made from a flower belonging to the sunflower family — contains natural anti-inflammatories that soothe away knee aches and pains caused by osteoarthritis. In fact, folks in one study who applied arnica gel just twice a week for six weeks reported that it dramatically decreased their symptoms. One option: Arnicare Gel at Amazon.com.
Have eggs and OJ. Stress chemicals linked to chronic pain spike in the a.m. An easy way to soak them up before they inflame joint tissues? Eat breakfast. Specifically, eggs, which contain lots of anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats, and orange juice, which is teeming with vitamin C, shown to ward off bone loss associated with osteoarthritis.
Just add onions. Got knee pain? Eat some onions, advises natural health expert Sharol Tilgner. Onions are loaded with quercetin and other compounds, like sulfur, that significantly reduce knee pain by inhibiting the enzymes directly responsible for joint inflammation. The onions with the most healing power? Tiny shallots, which are delicious minced in salads and stir-fries, followed by the yellow and red varieties, according to a Cornell study.
Loosen your hamstrings. “Flexible hamstrings — the muscles in the back of your thighs — help take pressure off your knees,” explains Jo A. Hanna n, M.D., Ph.D., director of orthopedic research at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery. To limber yours up: Lie flat, keeping one leg bent with your foot on the floor and raising the other one up to about a 90-degree angle. Relax for a count of five, then slowly lower your leg to the floor and repeat on the other side. The relaxing part is important, stresses Dr. Hanna n: “The ‘stretch receptors’ in your muscles activate when you relax.”
Strengthen quads with the wall sit.
Having strong quadriceps — the big muscles at the front of your thighs — helps keep your knees in place, “buffering them from shock and strain,” says Dr. Hannafin. A no-sweat way to strengthen your quads: Try the “wall sit.” Stand with your back resting against a wall and your feet spread slightly apart in front of you, about one foot from the wall. Next, slowly lower yourself to a sitting position. Hold 10 seconds; repeat five times per set for three sets.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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