Physical guidelines urge Australians to be more active, but research suggests that sometimes this is happening – unnecessarily, at the expense of their knees. Are you looking after your knobbly bits when you work out?
Since your knee is essentially a ball that sits on a flat surface, held in place by rubber bands it is no surprise that it gets injured so often. Most knee injuries are chronic minor irritations that develop slowly, but if they are not caught early take an annoyingly long time to heal. Others have an acute onset causing pain, swelling and reduced joint movement. Both may reduce the capacity for exercise, so do not gel well with an active life and your goal to be your best self.
Common knee injuries
Crepitus – causes your knees to go snap, crackle and pop, especially upon walking upstairs. This condition is very common and can be a harmless sign of wear and tear, but if pain accompanies the noise it needs checking out before embarking on high impact exercise.
Patellor tendonitis/bursitis – is also known as jumper’s knee and is caused by an overuse of the tendon that connects the quadriceps to the lower leg. The usual culprits for this pain are more high impact activities than your knee can handle.
Chondromalacia – is caused by the cartilage that runs over the knee becoming roughened as a result of overuse or a poorly tracking kneecap. You will feel it as an ache in the front of your knee or beneath your knee cap, especially walking downstairs or running downhill.
Anterior cruciate ligament tears – usually have a traumatic onset, but this may be as simple as jumping, twisting when changing direction or an awkward fall.
How to avoid knee injuries
Too much too soon – whether starting out or returning to exercise, ensure you slowly progress your volume of high impact activities such as running, burpees and tuck jumps.
Learn good techniques – for every movement from the outset otherwise each minute or rep takes you nearer to injury, not better fitness.
Muscle imbalance – weak glutes or tight hamstrings can cause repeated injuries, but some rehab exercises can resolve the issue.
Cross train – intersperse low impact exercise such as swimming, cycling, resistance training and yoga to give your knees a rest from high impact workouts.
Knees injuries may be common during recreational sport and exercise, but many are avoidable if you put these good training principles into practice.
By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub
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