Their location towards the base of our body means the knees carry more weight and do more work than almost any other joint. All that effort is bound to cause problems, ranging from injuries to the wear and tear that leads to arthritis.
The most common injuries in knees are torn ligaments and cartilages – usually from twisting forces. The twisted knee is no myth. Twisting the knee is very likely to tear the anterior cruciate ligament (the ACL). Damaging this ligament can result in a loud pop and the knee failing to support your weight. A minor tear can heal itself – walking will be painful, there will be swelling around the knee and the joint will feel unstable. A larger tear could mean surgery and a long, long recovery period.
The menisci (the same as the discs in a our spine) are very susceptible to impact and twisting injuries. Unlike the ACL, a menisci injury may go unnoticed initially, but can result in swelling and pain over time. The knee may lock while bending with a torn mensci, and squating can become painful.
And then, like anything with lots of moving parts, there’s the problem of overuse. Muscle strains, tendonitis, bursitis and illotibial band syndrome (the most common reason for knee pain in runners) can all occur from too much impact on the knee, and continuing exercise with knee pain is more likely to delay healing than speed it up. These sorts of injuries can be reduced by reducing high impact exercise, warm up before exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. Remember, every kilogram you weigh is three kilograms of impact at the knee.
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