Protect Your Knees!

The knee is a hinge type synovial joint and is one of the most important joints in our bodies. It is a load-bearing joint that is vital for both horizontal and vertical movement of the body. Without our knees, we wouldn’t be able to walk, run, jump or perform many other forms of movement.

Anatomy of the knee

Anatomy of the knee. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Unfortunately, too many of us take our knees for granted and find ourselves facing injuries unnecessarily. Although not all injuries can be avoided, such as those caused by accidents, there are at least three causes of knee pain that can be avoided: obesity, overuse and muscle weakness.

Being overweight simply adds too much force on the knees. With every step, hundreds of pounds of pressure are placed on your patellofemoral joints, leading to pain and cartilage damage. Maintaining a healthy weight is vital to your knee and overall health. Overuse injuries develop slowly over weeks and months and are often caused by repeated physical activities that place strain or impact on the knee joint. This can include conditions such as tendonopathies, bursitis and muscle strains. Muscle weakness can also contribute to pain and develop into overuse injuries, as we rely on other muscles to compensate.

Our therapists at City Sports and Physiotherapy Clinic, feel the best way to prevent injury is to strengthen your muscles through proper, focused exercises. Everything in the body is connected. In order to keep our knees in tiptop shape, we have to do more than just focus on the muscles connected to our knee joints. One way to improve muscle strength and lighten the load on your knees is to develop strong core, hip and back muscles thus creating stability.

Sit and stand with your back in a neutral spine position throughout the day and as you inhale, draw in your lower abdomen muscles and hold before releasing with an exhale. This will help maintain posture, strengthen your core and relieve pressure from your knees.

Squats are a full body exercise that primarily train the thighs, hips and buttocks, quads and hamstrings, but also strengthen the tendons and ligaments of the lower body. These tendons and ligaments, of course, are all connected to the knee joints. Squats also help to build core and back muscles. Another exercise that targets your thighs, core, glutes and back is the single leg bridge. Ask your physiotherapist on your next visit to show you the proper form of these exercises.

Before beginning any exercise program, it is always a good idea to consult with an expert in order to properly and safely perform an exercise, and to learn which exercises are right for you.

Bonus Tip: If you feel muscle tightness, use a foam roller or a tennis ball and relax your muscles into it in order to help relieve the tension and loosen your muscles.

(Image: BruceBlaus via Wikipedia, CC by 3.0)

(Credit to Little Goblins Press for this blog post)

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