Knee joint is the most commonly affected by the most common type of arthritis (osteoarthritis). It is so vital to support the movement of your body in daily activities. But this puts it as the vulnerable joint to get injury. The following are some pitfalls or conditions that can hurt it.
Normally, the knee joint has a tough cartilage called articular cartilage. This tough tissue is so essential to cushion and protect the ends of bones in the joint from excess pressure, allowing the ends of bones to glide against each other smoothly with almost no friction.
Basically, there is no ‘weak knee cartilage’, though some people can have defective cartilage at birth. In general, the major concern is how to strengthen muscles around the joint and cartilage. This is purposed to help ease the task of the cartilage.
If these muscles are strong, the cartilage can work easier because it doesn’t work alone in absorbing stress. The strong muscles are also useful to put the ends of bones in the joint at its best position when moving.
On the other hand, the cartilage can work harder than usual if these muscles are weak. Over time, this can make the cartilage breaks down more quickly and eventually may cause osteoarthritis.
The best way to improve the strength of these muscles is with regular exercise.
There are some exercises that can help strengthen the muscles of knee. One of best choices is brisk walking. Other choices include flexibility exercises, leg presses, and knee extensions.
It’s clear that stretching before you start your exercise is so essential. This is important to make sure your muscles are ready enough for your exercise. Skipping this procedure can be potential to cause injury since your muscles are suddenly pushed to work harder.
Exercise can put more pressure to the joint especially on your knee (depending on the kind of exercise). For instance, when you are running, your knee can load more stress than usual. If this is not supported with good performance of muscles, this may damage the cartilage over time.
Though experts confirm that running doesn’t cause osteoarthritis, but if you do it without stretching before, over time this may harm tissues in the knee, including for the cartilage.
Furthermore, stretching is also important to avoid sudden increase in blood pressure. It can help increase the blood pressure slowly before you exercise. And for best result, do also cool-down stretching after working out to help make your blood pressure decreases slowly.
The following steps can help warm up the muscles of your knees (image credit to NHS):
Position your body like in the following picture:
Let both your knees and toes point at the same direction. Keep focus on straining your buttocks and teardrop muscles as you come up. You can repeat that movement for about 10 times per set.
To make this knee bend stretching easier, you can use a Swiss ball. Put it between your back to help provide smooth movement.
Contraction on thigh
Sit on the chair, and make sure to sit up straight. Then raise your left leg straight forward and squeeze the muscles on the left thigh. Hold it for about ten seconds. See the picture below!
Repeat the same procedure for the right leg. Do it for 3 sets of about 10-15 seconds with each leg!
Keep both of your feet on the ground and cross your left leg behind your right leg! Lean to your right side and at the same time push the left hip outwards.
You need to feel the stretch along your outer left hip and thigh. That’s why don’t stick the buttocks out or bend forwards! Do this stretching for about 3 sets of 10-15 seconds with each leg!
Squats are one of common choices to warm up the muscles of your knee before exercise.
Stand and keep your feet on the ground, then bend both of your knees and at the same time raise both of your hands straight forward. Make sure to keep your back straight. Repeat it for several times!
Knee injuries that involve ACL tears are common. It affects more women since the natural way of women to turn, jump, and land puts more stress on their ACL. However it is also pretty common in men.
ACL in the knee can be injured in several ways. These include: