The holiday season is upon us, signalling the start of vacations, travelling and the much needed breather from the every-day life. However, Martinis and Long Island Iced teas may not be the only thing in mind if you suffer from knee pains during your travel. The thought of spending hours stuck in the constricted seat of your plane or coach could put a real wet-blanket on your trip. Here, we will discuss some tips you can use to reduce knee pain and maximise enjoyment during your travel!
Possible Causes of Knee Pain
People with psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis and/or runner’s knee are familiar with the pains of sitting for extended periods of time. While each condition differs in its cause of pain, one common factor is being kept in a bent position for prolonged periods.
Staying stationary with a flexed knee reduces blood circulation, increases friction between the patella and the femur (the bones in your knee), and runs the risk of irritating the meniscus (a protective cartilage between the femur and tibia). During inactivity, the joint and muscles around the knees start to stiffen. This can also trigger consequential pain upon leaving the sedentary state.
Sitting for hours however, is sometimes unavoidable when commuting. Yet, there are some things we can do to alleviate knee pains even during our travel.
1. Take preemptive measures, plan ahead and choose favourable options!
Choosing your mode of transport or duration of each commute allows you to plan for the optimum route to accommodate your knees. Road trips are generally more forgiving on your knees than flights because of the flexibility in regulating pit stops and the larger-than-economy leg-space a car or van allows. The ability to control when to make a stop caters better to your knees and the leg-space allows for movement or change in leg positions.
If driving is not an option, consider taking shorter connecting flights to minimise the effects of being stationary for long uninterrupted hours. Choosing airplane seats with more room for your legs, such as the exit-row seats, is always favourable. In the event that option is unavailable, choose at least an aisle seat which would allow you to straighten one knee or stand up to stretch with more convenience.
Get out of your seat if you are able to even if it is just for half a minute to stretch and move. Be it in a plane or train, do not hesitate to leave your seat for a walk along the aisle. This will relieve stiffness in your joints and lessen knee pains. Apart from making pit stops in a drive, change your sitting position regularly by adjusting the car seat or by switching between different leg positions.
3. Gear up!
Consider getting a brace for your knees; This helps weakened ligaments to hold your joints in place. Knee pains can be a result of misalignment of the bones in the knees when they are bent, therefore keeping the joints in its right position reduces pain.
Sitting may be part of commuting, but walking is definitely involved in vacations. Avoid wearing heeled footwear and invest in a pair of good walking shoes. A suitable pair of shoes can aid in proper leg alignment and increase stability; This lessens the stressful impact on the knees.
Preventive Measures Against Knee Pain
As always, prevention is better than cure. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the pressure on the knees and is crucial for keeping your knees healthy. While there is no complete defence against wears and tears of the ligaments or cartilage, it is possible to create a better support for your knees by strengthening the surrounding muscles.
Some may argue that it is precisely exercise that accelerates the degeneration of our cartilages but trained physiotherapists like us would assure you otherwise. With a proper routine and technique, exercise defends against knee degeneration. Seek professional guidance with our physiotherapists today, to learn practical ways on how to protect your knees and alleviate knee pains.