A Little Bit About the Knee
The knee is one of the most important joints within the human body as it connects, supports, and protects the internal structures of the leg. It also allows for the movement capacity of the leg muscles below the knee, all while safeguarding tendon and ligament connections between muscles and bones. The knee is a synovial joint which means that it not only contains cartilage in the joint capsule, but also a synovial fluid lubricant to guard against friction during movement. The knee is also the single most commonly injured joint in the body. All the while performing its crucial role protecting, connecting, and moving the leg, its proneness to injury make it worth exploring ways that we can do our part to protect our knees and avoid knee problems in the future. This article will describe various ways to protect the knee from potential damage.
How Can I Protect My Knees?
A key idea in learning to protect your knees is avoiding unnecessary stress. One of the primary causes of arthritis or inflammation in the knees of many patients is obesity. When we put on extra weight, it puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the joints in our bodies that have the burden of supporting our body weight. By paying attention to healthy dieting habits and frequently exercising, patients with obesity-related inflammation in the knees have been able to prevent knee injuries and reduce or almost entirely reverse the effects of this extra stress on their knees.
While almost any form of exercise will positively impact weight loss, there are more considerations than maintaining a healthy weight when it comes to exercise. It is equally important to understand how specific exercises can affect our knees. High-impact exercises, like those found in many sports, can put extra force and pressure on our knees when we perform them. High-impact exercise in terms of the knee, can be thought of as any activity that involves running or jumping, especially if there are quick transitions or changes in direction involved. Those sudden shifts in movement creates situations in which athletes become prone to knee injuries, like Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears. The key is to avoid overuse injuries, strains, and sprains, by prioritizing daily low-impact exercise and focusing on the proper form if you must perform high-impact movements.
Another way to practice knee injury prevention during exercise and training is by strengthening active muscles holistically, meaning training muscles in their full range of motion, and diversifying the type of exercises performed. When trying new exercises and activities, it is essential to start slow, letting your muscles and joints ease into the new forms of motion without too much weight or force. When practicing high-impact sports, wear shoes that offer proper support and absorb shock that would otherwise go to your knees and hips. If needed, use orthopedics to improve your support. By following these training tips, athletes and non-athletes can achieve a more balanced exercise regimen and maintain knee health.
Finally, one of the single most important aspects of preventing knee pain and avoiding wear and tear on knee joints is stretching and warming up. When resting, the muscles in our bodies become cold and tense. Exercise requires that our muscles be loose to increase elasticity, because a warm-up is necessary before exercising can be done safely. It's also important to note that a brief warm-up before exercising will allow us to perform better but also significantly reduce the risk of muscular injury during exercise. Likewise, stretching is an excellent way to improve knee joint flexibility, stability, and mobility. Most physical therapists and sports medicine doctors recommend stretching once a day after a workout if you have the opportunity.
So What's the Point?
While our knees are highly susceptible to damage from various causes, there are proven methods for improving and maintaining the health of our knees. While some conditions that lead to knee problems are genetic, most involve pain and injury that we can avoid. If you take proper care of your knees now, you might be able to prevent or at least curb the effects of aging, osteoarthritis, and chronic pain on your knees down the line.
When to See a Doctor
Knee injury and disease can vary immensely, but there are a few tell-tale signs that you might need the help of a medical professional. First, if you begin experiencing knee pain after a hard fall, blow to the knee, or a sharp pain indicating you might have torn a ligament or tendon, you should seek help. Some other signs that may solicit a doctor's attention include excessive stiffness or loss of mobility, radiating or shooting pain, numbness or tingling, warmth at the injury site, discoloration, or fever. If you're unsure whether your knee pain or injury warrants a visit to your healthcare provider, err on the side of caution and reach out to a professional.
The information on Ice Plus Magazine Blog is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, endorse, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professionals and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your medical condition. Ice Plus and the Editors are not responsible for the accuracy of information provided to the Ice Plus Magazine Blog by contributing authors and institutions or for the use of any information on Iceplusrelief.com. Thank you for reading our blog. You can shop for all Ice Plus Relief products here.