Everyday changes to stop you from ruining your knee
The knee is the biggest but most complex joint in the body. As we know, it is the one hinge that separates our body from the ground. It absorbs most of the energy as our body hits the ground with each footfall. The knee is made up of a simple hinge between the thigh (femur) and shin (tibia) and has the knee cap (patella) also floating about on top, as another separate joint.
Knee pain can be due to an acute traumatic injury such as on the sporting field or ski slopes, or from the process of wear and tear. Wear and tear, or osteoarthritis is the most common underlying cause of knee pain. According to Australian government reports, the number of total joint replacements where osteoarthritis was the principal diagnosis was for the knee and hip joints. This incidence of knee replacements has increased over the 10 years from 2004 to 2014, from 128 to 169 per 100,000 population.
Knowing how to protect your knees from damage can mean the difference between a fulfilling lifestyle and long term, strained mobility. Take measures to try these simple tips and avoid being another joint replacement statistic!
- Simple straight line movements.
The simplest way to preserve your knee, your knee cap and the cushioning inside the joint, is to keep an eye on how your knee travels over the foot. Remember...
'knee over the third toe' ...
whenever you find your knee bending. This can be as you sit down or stand up from all chairs and sofas (and even the loo!). As you walk up and down steps, can you work hard on this also? And how about at the gym with your leg presses, squats or lunges? By tracking your knee in this straight line, inward rolling forces are prevented, thereby preventing increased wear and tear on the inside part on your knee. Muscles will work in a balanced fashion about the knee and knee cap too, so you are constantly rehabilitating your knee with every bend!
Pain is the body's way of sending you a signal that perhaps something is going wrong. If pain is insidious or a gradual increase about the knee, seek assessment and management guidance from your friendly physio. Often a little manual therapy for knee pain, postural awareness and strengthening work for the knee and surrounding joints will nip your niggle in the bud. There is nothing more damaging than persisting through ongoing pain when the loading and biomechanics around your knee is just not right. What's that I hear coming around the bend? Osteoarthritis!
I know this is easier said than done and is a decision often to change a few things in our lives. However, did you know that for every kilogram of extra body weight we carry, there is an extra 5 kilograms of force loading up the knee. Ouch!
- Don't ignore the joints and tissues around the knee
We have previously written about the bossy hip and bossy foot in an earlier post. Weak muscles and lack of flexibility are primary causes of knee injuries. When the muscles around the knee cap, hip, and pelvis are strong, it keeps the knee stable and balanced, providing support by absorbing some of the stress exerted on the joint. Feet, arch height, and footwear also play a HUGE role in keeping the knee a happy camper. Physios and podiatrists are terrific at advising and prescribing the right shoe or orthotics for you.
I know you are all saying "well that is not me", but any sudden increase in exercise that is not graduated can overload your knee joint and the supporting tissues such as tendons, muscles and cartilage. This includes walking, boot camp, or cycling. Our bodies need to build up tolerance to what we ask of it, and this takes time to develop. Too much too soon without rest is a recipe for disaster. And add to that the little extra weight you may be carrying and trying to lose; rolling inward knees, or poor shoes and wham, a sore knee will come knocking.
Speak to our physio's @ The Fix Program or personal trainer should be able to structure a safe and progressive program for you from some baseline measures, individualised for you.
Start today and keep the orthopaedic surgeon away!