Your Weight Defines Your Knee Health

In response to bodyweight looming large as a world health issue, Bariatrics – a science that deals with the management and treatment of overweight, is a much sought-after stream of education in recent years. Capitalizing on it from the periphery are gymnasiums, weight-reduction clinics and yoga ashrams that spring up every other day, promising to help achieve weight-loss.

In our previous blog “Belly Fat” we see that carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats, refined foods and sugar get plonked around the middle. But, the part of the body that receives the most beating from overweight is the knees.


The knees are not only the largest joints in the human body. They also bear the entire weight of it. Knees age with every step we take. There is only so much they can withstand, before the muscles and ligaments get weaker and cartilage breaks down, causing pain, stiffness and swelling.


It is common to hear the aged (and the aging, if you will) complain of creaky knees. Crepitus, as it is medically termed, is harmless till there’s pain and swelling. It is usually the precursor to knee problems characterized by pain, restricted range of movement and difficulty going about daily life like walking or getting in or out of a chair.

Other causes for knee problems are age-related wear-and-tear, accidents, injuries, certain medical conditions, genetics and menopause/andropause.

Pain generally, is the harbinger of a problem. Listening to it and handling what it points out to can halt a disease-causing mission. The RICE treatment (viz) Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation is recommended for pain in the knees. However, prolonged pain and swelling need medical care and supervision.


Knee-health is primarily sustained by healthy bodyweight, and healthy bodyweight is achieved by:

– Regular physical activity, that includes aerobics like walking, running, swimming and cycling.

– Muscle-strengthening exercises like squats and lunges that work the thigh muscles and hamstrings and fortify the knees.

The other factors that keep the knees supple are:

– Posture-maintenance or standing tall with the head in line with the shoulders, shoulders directly over the hips, hips aligned with the knees, and the knees aligned with the feet.

– Pronation of the feet by wearing appropriate footwear.


The best way to remember how weight affects the knees is the 1:4 formula that says that for every kilogram of bodyweight increased, the knees endure four times the pressure. Now picture the condition of the knees while walking up and down a flight of stairs.

Having said that, it is equally true for every kilogram of bodyweight decreased. The knees have four times less the pressure to deal with, bringing the moral of the story to “weight management”.

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