4 Tips to Protect Your Knees

Maintaining healthy knees is critical for anyone who leads an active lifestyle. Knees can be achy, tight, may pop or swell. Cartilage damage, injured hips and weak feet, or excess body weight can contribute to knee pain. Minor structural misalignment can lead to injuries and arthritis later in life.

Caring for your knees begins at home. Stay active and maintain healthy hips, knees and feet through strength training, flexibility and a little TLC.

Juice Up Your Joints

Therapeutic heat boosts circulation around joints, and results in accelerated healing, increased mobility, and pain relief. Before a workout, apply a thermal wrap for 20 to 30 minutes or until you feel your knees loosen up. Save your money on heating gels, as they don't reach deep enough to increase circulation around the joint.

Freeze the Pain

Ice is one of the best ways to reduce pain, calm inflammation, and decrease muscle spasms. After a workout, apply an ice pack for a minimum of 20 minutes. For sensitive skin, use a thin towel between the joint and ice to prevent damage.

Firm Foundation

Resistance training does more than give you shapely muscles. Strong muscles hold your bones and joints in place. Toned quads, a solid core and tight glutes are the keys to healthy knees. Stable ankles prevent knee compression, so maximize standing exercises by lifting your inner arches while pressing outer arches to the floor.

Active Rest

After an intense workout, sore joints will benefit from non-weight-bearing activity. Ride a bike, swim laps or hop on a row machine. Passive yoga poses are an excellent opportunity to slow down and breathe deep. Sink into Hero Pose to keep your knees lithe and limber. Direct breath to any discomfort and feel tight areas melt away.

Focus on strength, flexibility and alignment to help keep your hips, knees and feet strong and supple so you can enjoy an active lifestyle.

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Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor.  For more information go to jazzercise.com or call (800) FIT-IS-IT.

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