With all of the running, jumping, squatting and bending you do, it’s important to take care of your knees. Here’s your plan for building healthy, powerful knobs. Most people don’t give much thought to the health of a joint until it gives them problems. I’m here to tell you that you should consider the well-being of your knees everyday if you want to stay fit, active and out of the orthopedist’s office for many years to come.
What exactly is the knee comprised of? The knee is where the femur and shin bones come together to form the joint. Unlike the hip or shoulder, which rotate within a socket, the knee is connected by ligaments, which are soft tissues that give the joint lots of mobility. The downside, however, is this type of connection is more likely to get injured because the joint is constantly unstable.
Wear and tear. Living a healthy lifestyle has a big impact on the health of your knees. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of knee pain. Studies show the heavier you are, the greater the load your knees have to carry. Each step you take on a flat surface puts about one and a half times your body weight on each knee while walking up stairs puts about two to three times your body weight on the knees. For example, if you weigh 130 lbs, your knees are loaded with up to 400 lbs of pressure and if you weight 200 lbs, the amount of pressure shoots up to 600 lbs!
Weak in the knees? Studies show that women are two to five times more likely than men to rupture their ACL. Also, they show that female athletes are more than twice as likely as men to experience patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), which causes pain and inflammation in the front of the knee and around the kneecap.
In general, the cause is that women have a larger Q-angle (the angle that forms between the femur and tibia, or shinbone) than men because they have wider hips. In fact, the wider the Q-angle, the more your quads tug at the kneecap.
Put your best foot forward. This doesn’t mean you need to cut exercises like squats, lunges and jump rope from your routine but it does mean that your form should be priority one. To perform a check-up on your exercise form, do a few single leg squats in front of a mirror. If your standing knee caves inward, then you need to watch your form on squats. Perform them slowly, push the hips back, track the knees over the ankles and keep the chest up. Remember to pay close attention while performing jumping exercises as well. Be sure to bend at the knees and hips on the landing to reduce impact.
Shoe over. The footwear you sport outside the gym may be just as important to knee health as the shoes you wear during exercise. A 2012 study found that woman who wore nearly 4 inch high heels experienced 40% more stress on the front of their knee that those in 2.5 inch heels. Downsize your heel height as much as you can to protect your knees. As far as exercise shoes, it’s a good idea to replace them every 6-8 months as the midsoles break down. When this area is worn, the shoe absorbs less shock, which transfers to pressure to your ankles and knees.
The reality is that knee pain be prevented with common sense. If you have pain in your knee or any other joint, stop what you’re doing and give it time to heal. If you don’t see progression after two weeks, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor or physical therapist to back to a pain-free life. Also, don’t forget to stretch after you workout to maintain knee health. Give your knees proper care and they will thank you for it. Remember, your fitness hinges on them!
Dustin Bogle is a personal trainer at Kokomo Fitness in Hesperia. Contact him at KokomoFitness.com or (760) 995-3366