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Knee Care for Active Living

You want to stay fit, don’t you? So you try to keep your body in balance by eating your vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular exercise. But that balance can be disrupted when a joint like the knee is injured. How can you keep to your usual exercise routine when you can’t bend your knee in the first place? The best way to treat knee pain or a knee injury is with prevention.

The medical consensus is that healthy adults should get 30-45 minutes of exercise at least a few times per week. So you play pickup basketball, hit the golf course, go for a daily run, or participate in any number of activities that keep you moving. The problem is, with any activity that involves using your leg power, there comes a risk of orthopedic injuries like:
  • Sprained/strained ligaments or muscles
  • Torn cartilage
  • Tendonitis
  • Osteoarthritis
How do you make your fitness routine safer, so you can avoid problems ranging from knee pain to knee surgery, knee replacement, or other ways of putting yourself out of commission?

Watch your step
One simple way to avoid knee injury when doing activities like jogging is to watch where you’re putting your feet. If you plant your foot one way and your knee goes the other, you’re at high risk of over-stretching or tearing the ligament at the front of the knee, known commonly as the ACL. Keep an eye on your environment, too – be aware of what’s up ahead and you can go easily around obstacles or slow to a stop if you need to. You risk injury if you change directions too quickly or come to a sudden stop.

Strengthen & condition
You can help prevent sports-related knee injuries by strengthening the correct muscles and learning the correct technique for your sport of choice (yes, running has techniques, too). Many ACL injuries can be prevented if the muscles around the knees are strong and flexible. By strengthening the area that will take the most stress, you can keep injuries from happening in the first place. Exercises should aim to increase muscle power, balance, and improve core strength and stability.

The following training tips can reduce the risk of an ACL injury:
  • Train and condition year round.
  • Practice proper landing technique if your sport involves jumping, as in basketball. When you pivot, crouch and bend at the knees and hips. This reduces stress on the ACL.
  • Strengthen your hamstring and quadriceps muscles. The hamstring muscle is at the back of the thigh; the quadriceps muscle is at the front. The muscles work together to bend or straighten the leg. Strengthening both muscles can better protect the leg against knee injuries.  
  • Strengthen the hip and lower leg musculature. To protect the knee, it helps to strengthen the musculature both above and below the joint, so they are better able to take stress and remain stable.
So the next question is, where can you learn the proper training methods and form and technique for your workout?

How ECHN can help
ECHN has a Strength & Conditioning program that uses safe, age-specific, evidence-based training principles to help you lower your risk of injury. Our licensed and certified health care professionals provide structured, progressive training programs in a safe, clean, professional environment to help prevent sports- and workout-related injuries and enhance athletic performance.

A training program will be developed that is suited for your specific needs. All training sessions are supervised by a Strength & Conditioning professional and are appropriately designed for each person’s age and skill level. We will instruct you on how to effectively and safely participate in our Strength & Conditioning program by teaching you proper exercise form and technique.

Don’t let fear of knee injury or knee pain stop you from being active – the risks of injury are lower than the risks to your health from not exercising at all. So get up, get moving, and get some guidance on how to be smart with your workouts.

Sport, Rehabilitation and Joint Services. “Strength & Conditioning.” Eastern Connecticut Health Network. Accessed April 15, 2013.

“Knee Pain and Problems”

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Luks, Howard, MD

Last Annual Review Date: 1/4/2012

© 2000-2013 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

“Tips for Preventing an ACL Knee Ligament Injury”

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Luks, Howard, MD

Last Annual Review Date: 12/7/2011

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