There are a couple of hard truths you should know about your knees and joints. The first thing is that the cartilage won’t grow back. No amount of treatment can make the rubbery-soft knee and joint bone protectors regrow. They can’t, unlike other bones in the body.
When this happens, eventually, the slightest knee movement can cause extreme pain and stiffness. Muscles and ligaments will deteriorate. Your days of free running and walking, by then, will be numbered.
Also, knee-buckling is real; so is runner’s knee. The former is primarily caused by weakened muscles while the latter is a more severe form of knee evil. The knees are more prone to injuries than any other parts of the body are, as confirmed by a sports-injury specialist, Brian Halpern, MD.
The joints are exposed to varying levels of danger and are susceptible to pains, even more so when you’re an athlete. Here are a couple of steps that you may want to try so your knees won’t start letting you down sooner than later.
One of the most underrated muscles is the glute medius. To take off some pressure on the knees and joints, especially when they’re in pain, activating the glute medius, otherwise called the lesser-known hip muscle, is the key.
The glute medius plays a vital role in stabilizing the leg. Having a weak glute medius oftentimes leads to not being able to take control of the femur, which happens to be the longest and thickest bone of the human skeleton, extending from the pelvis to the knees.
When that happens, the femur leans over during reps or other strenuous activities, adding more stress to the knees. You’ll notice your knees wobble as you perform them. Without proper support, the leg tends to curl inward.
You’ll know your glutes are weak if your femur is prone or tends to turn sideways when doing single-leg, lower-body-strengthening movements like lunges or squats. Without doing any corrective measures, this can possibly lead to a slightly bent leg or knock-knee or overall instability further down the leg.
There are lots of exercises that you can start with to strengthen this hip muscle. Activating the glutes can definitely help you in performing a lower-body exercise, increase athletic agility, and prevent joint loading and future knee or back pains.
You can start with a hip-strengthening exercise called sidelined leg raise, in which you lie on your side with your legs straight and both your feet together. When you’re in a comfortable position, slowly lift your top leg to roughly 45 degrees in a controlled manner. Make sure you don’t turn your leg sideways to compensate for the weight when doing this and keep your toes pointed away from you to activate those targeted glutes.
Age-proof Your Knees and Joints
A lot of people say that jogging every day can make you lose your joint fluids faster. But the loss of cartilage is definitely a natural part of aging. There is no scientific evidence that shows jogging can accelerate the loss and ruin your knees in the long run. In fact, most people who do engage their limbs in healthy exercises and a varied range of motions daily are found to have stronger legs.
A study has compared runners and nonrunners to show which group is more prone to developing arthritis. Thirty-two percent of those who don’t run have developed arthritis, compared to 20 percent of those who do run.
There are ways not to put too much stress on your joints when doing CrossFit exercises. For example, when doing run-and-walk intervals, try to build mileage and pace gradually. Doing them on level grounds and shorter strides can lessen the load on your joints.
As much as possible, avoid heel strikes. This happens when you position the front part of your toes in the same angle as your knees when running or walking, making your heel in direct contact with the ground. Using a kinesiology tape for your knees can also give you the extra boost you need on your strides and relieves pressure off your kneecap and the surrounding tendons while doing these exercises.
Keep the Weight Off
Extra body mass can definitely add more load or pressure to your knees, without a doubt. The American College of Sports Medicine confirms that “exercise reduces arthritis pain and decreases the inflammation associated with arthritis.”
Runners maintain a healthy weight by staying active. Exercising at a moderate level and reasonable frequency can keep the extra pounds off. Remember, the more weight you put on, the more pressure your joints will have to bear.
Try to stay on track and perform your exercises at least three or four times a week. Average pace of walking or running means that you can still carry out a conversation with your buddy as you move along your course. Doing this at least 30 minutes to an hour a day will surely keep away the extra pounds from your body.
Knees and joints are not designed to be shock absorbers. But because of their individual functions and how they are aligned with the other parts of the body, there’s just no way around it.
They suffer the brunt force of the daily wear and tear, more so than the others. When the leg suffers an injury or pain of any kind, the knees and ankles have to compensate and do extra legwork—literally. When a person collapses for unknown reasons, more often than not, it’s the elbows that come to the rescue and softens the impact of the fall.
Because the cartilage is irreplaceable, you should pay utmost attention to your knees and elbows and protect them from injuries.