Third, give your knees a chance to heal
Being active and spending parts of your day standing up are absolutely necessary for leg strength as well as cardiovascular health. But taking some time to rest your legs and knowing when to rest is also critical.
Regular loading and unloading of weight on your knees is best for the health of your cartilage; too much or too little movement leads to problems. Cartilage relies on joint movement to diffuse blood and other nutrients through joint fluid. While cartilage heals much more slowly than muscle and skin, it can heal (at least, to some extent) if you give it the chance.
Giving your knees periods of rest during the day involves listening to your knees and noticing when they feel tired, as well as potentially changing your daily routine and habits. If your job involves standing up to the point that your knees hurt, brainstorm ways that you can improve your work conditions. This might include wearing more supportive shoes, standing on a padded mat or wearing knee pads, taking shorter but more frequent breaks, or finding a way to do some of your job sitting down. You will also find that once you’ve released your tight leg muscles and improved your body use with Clinical Somatics exercises, your knees will feel much happier throughout the day.
If you’re an athlete and your exercise of choice is damaging your knees, you need to think about your priorities. There are many, many athletes out there who continue their routine even though they know they’re doing damage to their bodies. It’s easy to be in the mindset that keeping up your fitness or performance level is more important than a little knee pain; I certainly had that mentality when I was a dancer. At some point, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you could be permanently damaging your body. When you feel pain or any discomfort, your body is telling you something.
If there’s one particular activity that you love more than anything else, it can be difficult to think about doing it less or doing something else instead. However, you might be surprised that your performance can improve if you start cross-training. By alternating several different forms of exercise throughout the week that use your body in different ways, you’ll give the joints and muscles of your body a chance to rest and heal. For example, my knees get “off days” when I swim or go to yoga. As long as you work out just as often, you will probably notice an improvement in your athletic performance as well as in how your body feels.