Our knees are hinge joints which consist of two joints; tibio-femoral and patella-femoral joints. The key to stability in our knees is through our ligaments. The most important structure of the knee is the menisci which is made of cartilage which of course with time can wear and tear. Our knees are also composed of muscle, nervous, osseous and connective tissue structures. The parts of the knee that are most commonly injured are the following:
– Patella/Quadriceps tendon
– IT Band
-Medial or Lateral Menisci
– Retro patella Surface
There are several factors that can play a role in knee discomfort, pain or instability. We will name a few:
- Normal aging process creates normal wear and tear
- Sports related injury
- Accidental injury/ trauma
- Improper body mechanics with everyday activities
Lets spend some time talking about different knee injuries. Part 2 of this blog which will be published next week will discuss how to strengthen your knee joints.
Normal Aging Process
As with most things in life, over time things wear down. Our bodies have no shield against this very normal process that happens with everyone and almost everything in life. Think tires, clothes, pets, carpets, window shades, canopies, etc. Over time all of these items will wear and tear and may eventually require repair or replacement. However, you can extend the life span of these things, including your knees and all joints if we take care of them and keep them nice and strong.
Sports related Injury
The most common way to injure your knee is to plant your foot and turn or pivot. Speaking from personal experience, my sister tore her ACL and Meniscus during a basketball match when she decided to turn while leaving her foot planted. “POP!” is what she heard and when she tried to get up, she fell right back down. Her knee lost its primary stabilizer the moment her ACL tore. She went on to require surgical ACL and Meniscus repair only to re-tear it again 5 months later and require a 2nd surgery; all before she even turned 18 years of age.
When one plays sports you assume all risks that come with it which include the possibility of injury. With the simple act of jogging one creates an impact force on our joints especially the knee. As your foot hits the floor, the impact of the ground (harder the surface greater the impact) goes from your foot and through your joints. The stronger your muscles are that surround your joints the more impact is absorbed through your muscle vs joints. Hence, the stronger your muscles the more protection your joints have. Think of your muscles as your joints’ body guards! Who do you want protecting your joints?
*Caution, this could be a trick question *
Weak and atrophied
photo credit; news.com.au
Photo credit; pinterest.com
Big and Bulky
photo credit; muscle and fitness
The answer is: you want a good combination of both Captain America and The Rock and we will explain why during the “how to strengthen part of this blog”. So, keep on reading. However, there is also a right way to strengthen and a wrong way to strengthen. We will discuss the best most proper way a bit later.
Accidental Injury/ Trauma
In life, there are some things we cannot avoid no matter how much we try to take care of ourselves. Another personal example, my brother was out at a dog park one nice sunny day when all of a sudden, a dog who was being chased by another dog came at him from the side and ran right into his knee knocking him straight to the ground. In the process, the blunt force trauma of a dog running at full speed caused significant damage to his knee requiring him to undergo a total knee replacement. We happen to work in a clinic where the majority of the patients are worker’s compensation clients, meaning they were injured in an accident at work.
There may be a time that a fall, car accident, work accident, etc., may be to blame for the pain or discomfort in your knee.
Improper Body Mechanics
If we repeatedly perform activities, job tasks or every day life errands using improper body mechanics, this can also lead to accelerated wear and tear on your joints; especially your knees.
If you bend down to pick up an object from the floor using poor mechanics such as in the picture below, you are adding additional pressure to your knees.
By simply making a few corrections to how you perform this task, you can greatly reduce the wear and tear to you knee and in the end, protect your joint from possible damage or the need for surgical repair in the future.
Another example is how you go up the stairs. Again, as seen in the picture to your left in comparison the picture on your right you can see that the changes are small yet the pressure in the knee is minimized by simply performing the activity slightly different.
A good analogy is the wheel alignment on your car. If you have good alignment, the wheels wear evenly and last a long time. If they have poor alignment, the wheels will wear down quickly along the sides or edges and will need to be replaced much sooner. The same holds true for your knee or and joint for that matter. If you are using improper posture or body mechanics, you are basically out of alignment and are wearing down on the tissues faster. In general, if you can keep your knees from passing your toes, you are in a safe more recommended position.
Photo credit; Post Rehab MES course
STAY TUNED!! NEXT WEEK WE WILL DISCUSS KNEE STRENGTHENING EXERCISES!