Wearing the wrong shoes

The importance of wearing the right shoes can’t be overstated. Cheap footwear can lead to shortened Achilles tendons, poor ankle stability and foot discomfort, and all of this has a knock-on effect on your knees. Wear bad shoes for long enough, and your knees will try to accommodate and correct the imbalance and tension, leading to bad walking posture, stiffness and pain.


Everyone knows the damage that smoking can wreak on your lungs and teeth, but the habit can be detrimental to other areas of your body. Frequent smokers experience cartilage loss across their lifetime, which can seriously affect the knees in particular. Having less cartilage around your knees will mean pain and discomfort while walking, which can progress into reduced mobility and a need for knee replacement surgery.

Not exercising enough

Like any other part of your body, your knees are dependent on the muscles around them to help you move around easily. These muscles have to be conditioned and taken care of in order to keep them functioning, which means partaking in regular exercise. Without 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, five days a week, you could experience muscle weakness and thus poor balance, mobility issues and frequent strains.

Skipping warm-ups or cool-downs

When partaking in any kind of exercise, it’s important to ensure your body is ready to be put through its paces. Warming up allows the muscles to loosen and stretch so that your activity of choice doesn’t damage them. Going for a long run or intense CrossFit session without a warm-up is a recipe for torn knee ligaments, twists or sprains, and cartilage loss over time.

Sleeping wrong

Though many knee injuries happen during periods of intense activity, it is possible to damage them while resting too. Though you might struggle to imagine it, it’s possible that your sleeping position may be aggravating existing knee problems or placing more stress on your joints. Placing a pillow between the knees, or under straight legs if you’re a back sleeper, can alleviate pain and prevent further damage.

Eating inflammatory food

Your diet might not seem like something that can affect the health and function of your knees, but the truth is, what you eat can have a huge impact on your joints. People who develop osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis in their knees, will find that a diet full of inflammatories like sugar, saturated fats and high levels of salt will increase knee swelling, irritation and pain.

Crossing your legs

Crossing the legs is an innocent habit that most people indulge in at some point during the workday, in order to sit more comfortably. However, this sitting position isn’t as harmless as it might seem. Sitting with crossed legs for prolonged periods can put stress on the knees by tightening the hamstrings, as well as creating sore spots in the knee muscles and raising blood pressure in the calves.

Neglecting muscles around the knee

Bending your knees when lifting heavy objects and making sure to cool down after workouts are both good habits, but they aren’t enough to keep your knees in tip-top shape. To avoid injuries caused by weakness and inflexibility in the knees, it’s necessary to sometimes focus on the quadriceps and hamstrings in your exercise program, as strengthening these will give your knees full support and mobility.

Ignoring discomfort

One of the main causes of knee injuries is ignoring or pushing through pain. While a little bit of discomfort is normal when starting a new exercise programme or when dealing with a chronic condition such as arthritis, a doctor should be consulted in instances of pain, as many knee injuries can go from bad to worse as a result of going back to normal too fast.

Skipping rest days

Similarly to resting after an injury, your exercise plans should always incorporate regular rest days. Breaks in any exercise programme are necessary for the tendons, muscles and cartilage to repair themselves, and so skipping rest days can result in inflammation, soreness, irritation, swelling and pain. This can progress to mobility issues and permanent damage if not changed.