Ask the Sports Doc: Weight and your knees

Published 7:26 pm Thursday, August 13, 2009

EF asks: I am a 43-year-old male who was active in the past but in the recent years has gained a fair amount of weight. I have gained about 30 pounds and my knees are starting to ache when I go up and down the stairs. Also, I am having difficulty kneeling.

I used to be able to play basketball with my son but my knees and my weight are really affecting me. Can you give me some advice on how to lose weight and what exercises I can do to lose the weight?

Dr. Patel writes: Dear EF, I am glad you at least recognize your weight problem. The first goal in losing weight is to admit you may be overweight.

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The bottom line in losing weight is controlling your input (calories) and increasing your output (metabolic rate/exercising). Losing weight is not an easy task, but there are several things that can help. Caloric intake, as well as the types of food you eat for the calories, is important. Many of my patients have tried Weight Watchers and have been very happy with their results. Also, increase your salad and fruit intake. Our Western diet does not seem to emphasize that as much as it should.

For every pound you lose, you can take up to five pounds of pressure off the knee cap. The pain you are having when kneeling and going up and down the stairs is from arthritis on the knee cap, as well as from weakness in your quadriceps muscle.

To strengthen the muscle around the knee, try closed chain exercises. Closed chain exercises are when your foot is planted onto a surface while strengthening the quad muscle. Some examples are bicycling, leg press machines, and elliptical machines.

I would advise against jogging, as this may make your symptoms worse. Also, I don’t recommend leg extension exercises where the foot is air-borne, as this may flare up the knee arthritis. Anti-inflammations may help you if not contraindicated by your doctor.