Your knees are the largest joint in your body and often take the brunt of the heavy lifting. It heavily relies on ligaments to support it and undergoes a lot of strain to fulfill its range of motion through the course of normal activities. And because of that, people are more prone to knee injuries than other parts of your body.
The following items are the most common ailments to the knee.
The most common and dramatic knee injury is a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. The ACL is the central stability center for the knee as it bends. A fall or twist can predispose the ligament to tearing. ACL tears are the most common tears among athletes such as football players or downhill skiers and can also result from cycling, running, and more. Also, when your quadriceps are stronger than your hamstrings this can predispose you to this injury.
When you injure your ACL you will more than likely know you’ve encountered a more serious injury. Generally patients have difficulty bearing weight and there is usually swelling in the joint. Surgery and physical therapy are the most common fixes for this injury.
Meniscus tears are also very common knee injuries. The meniscus is the cartilage pads between the femur and tibia bones. It helps cushion and stabilize the knee joint. Meniscus tears generally happen during a deep-knee bend, twist or slip and fall. The does not heal easily and may need to be surgically trimmed or repaired.
Those that injure their meniscus generally have difficulty bearing weight, swelling, and limited motion. Patients generally may even have problems fully bending or straightening their your knee.
The key to injury prevention and healing from a knee injury includes regular stretching and strengthening. Not only do you want to strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee, but core strengthening is also very beneficial. Stretching with a normal range of motion, and gaining core strength and stability will help before the injury occur. Limber muscles are better able to respond to quick movements and allow the knee to maintain normal motion.
Hip and core strength is especially important to knee stability, as weak hips and core can stress the knees. You should consider developing a strength training program that works for you. Physical therapists, athletic trainers, coaches, and other professionals should be able to help you build a program tailored to you.
By stretching and strengthening approximately three times a week, you will significantly decrease your likelihood of a knee injury.