Keeping Your Knees Healthy
It doesn’t matter if you are athletic, a weekend workout buff or a person who likes to take life easy, we all can be susceptible to knee injuries if we are not careful.
Our knees are bound by an intricate system of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage and this makes them vulnerable to injury. Consider your knees as a complex hinge where the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), fibula (next to the shin bone) and kneecap all come together.
To better understand how knee problems can occur, it’s helpful to know what the purpose of everything is in the knee.
Ligaments hold your knee together – they are stabilizers. There are four ligaments.
There are two types of cartilage. The meniscus acts as a shock absorber. The other cartilage coats the surfaces of bones, enabling them to glide past one another. When this particular cartilage wears away due to a misalignment or stress, the bone-on-bone rubbing creates pain which may lead to arthritis.
Muscles that control the knee are located in front of the thigh (quadriceps) and behind it (hamstrings).
Tendons connect the knee bones to the leg muscles that move the knee joint.
A wrong step or a sideways collision can easily cause a strain or tear. Although this can happen to men, women are up to eight times more likely to experience a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). ACL injuries are a very common knee injury among athletes. According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, about 150,000 ACL injuries occur in the United States every year. The Canadian Institute for Health Research says that almost 2,000 Canadians were hospitalized with ACL injuries in 2013. Those numbers do not include the tens of thousands who went to clinics and sports medicine doctors to treat their knee injuries.
How to Damage Your Knees
Ignoring knee pain will not solve anything and if anything it will worsen a condition. An occasional ache here and there is somewhat normal and not a reason to raise alarm bells. When the aches become persistent or pain starts to interfere with your ability to be comfortable then it is time to have it checked out. If you leave a minor injury and it seems to “go away” then this inevitably means at some point in the not-so-distant future you will have a re-occurring injury making things worse.
Not Following Through with Rehab
If you have been going through treatment and you decide you’re fine and stop going then this may be a window to further problems down the road. Rest and rehabilitation after a knee injury is critical to avoiding future pain or re-injury. Depending on the type of damage and treatment, recovery could last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. Always follow through to the end of your treatment.
Did you know that for every pound we are overweight it puts five pounds of force on the knees? Can you imagine what being ten pounds overweight is doing to your knees? This is cause for undue stress on the knees that open several possibilities to future problems.
Being overweight increases the odds of a person getting osteoarthritis in the knee; this wears away at the knee’s cartilage. Excess weight also causes existing arthritis to worsen at a quick rate. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), two out of three obese people suffer from knee osteoarthritis at some point in their life.
We are all guilty at times of overdoing things, especially when working out on a regular basis. Overdoing things can be spending too much time in the garden or running for the bus when your knee is recovering from a prior injury. Pushing yourself too hard can cause a host of problems. A sudden increase in duration or intensity of physical movement or an exercise can cause overuse injuries from repetitive strain. Kneecap pain and tendonitis are common symptoms in the knee. Always be sure to stretch before and after working out; even if you plan on a long walk after dinner.
Things to Be Aware of to Prevent Knee Injuries
In some ways we are like a car, if wheel alignment is off then our tires wear. If our body is not properly aligned, muscles, joints, and ligaments take more strain than they are intended. To make sure you’re properly aligned here are some tips:
• Keep your back straight and don't slouch.
• Try to keep your knees slightly bent when standing – never lock them.
• Keep your abdominal muscles tight.
• Your head should be centered over your body. Try to position your ears over the shoulders.
• Keep your weight evenly distributed between your feet.
Shoes that cause your body weight to be unevenly distributed place extra stress on your knee joints. Flat or rigid arches, uneven leg length, and bowed legs are fairly common, and each can contribute to an awkward stride and put pressure on your knees. High-heeled shoes might add to the risk of osteoarthritis or other knee problems. Apparently there are some studies out there that claim women who wear high heels have stress across the part of the knee where osteoarthritis usually develops.
Last but Not Least, Exercise Regularly
Straight leg exercises are easy and can be done at your desk or while watching television. Sit with both feet on the floor. Raise one leg up and slowly raise your foot up until your leg is almost straight, then slowly lower. Do this five times for each leg to start with then increase as you feel comfortable. Hamstring curls are real easy. Stand straight with both knees slightly bent and hold a chair. Slowly raise one leg up backwards and slowly return to the foot to the ground. Do this five times for each leg in the beginning and work up to as many as you are able. Calf raises are basically standing tippy toed. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and slowly lift up onto your toes then lower, repeat this as many times as you feel comfortable doing.
If you are experiencing persistent knee aches or pain its best not to take chances. Call Chiro-Med Rehab Centre.
Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for over half a decade. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can help you come up with a personalized plan to ensure the stretches and exercises will benefit the health of your spine and extremities. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-2620 for more information.
For questions, guidance, or more information, call us at any time!
We accept all extended health care insurances, motor vehicle accidents and W.S.I.B.