The knee is the largest joint in the body, and it gets a lot of wear-and-tear. It’s required to bend, flex, and pivot smoothly, all while bearing your weight — 80% of your body weight when you stand still, and 150% or more when you walk. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the most easily injured joints, especially when you exercise.
Accelerated Medical — an integrative medical practice under the direction of Dr. Wade Taylor and Dr. Shannon McKinney in Elko, Nevada — combines tried-and-true chiropractic care with cutting-edge regenerative medicine to treat a wide variety of conditions, including injuries and diseases of the knee.
The Accelerated Medical team encourages patients to exercise for health, but they also want you to understand how you can protect yourself from injury while doing so. This guide can help you get up to speed.
The knee is a large, complex joint, made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Together, these components make it possible for you to walk, run, jump, turn, climb, and sit and stand. Because the joint is used so heavily, it’s always at risk for injury.
Tips for protecting your knees during exercise
Following are the top five things you can do to protect your knees when you exercise.
1. Work all of your muscles
Strengthening exercises bolster the muscles that support your knee. Such support can help relieve the pressure and strain sustained during exercise and allow you to be more active without injury. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advocates just such exercises.
But it’s important to work on all of the muscle groups, not just one or two, because the latter would result in instability, and instability leads to injury. Your most important muscle groups are your quads, in the front of your thigh; the hamstrings, muscles and tendons behind your knee and thigh; and your hip abductors and adductors, in your outer and inner thighs, respectively.
2. Warm up
Before you get started — not just with sports or your favorite activity, but with knee strengthening exercises, too — warm up with light exercise. Walking, cycling, or using an elliptical machine puts minimal stress on your knee joints and helps increase blood flow to your muscles, providing them with greater flexibility.
3. Choose the right equipment
Before you even start exercising, ensure your shoes are up to the task. They should be designed for the sport you’re playing and have sufficient arch and heel support. The wrong shoes, or ones without adequate support, can throw your knees out of alignment and increase your risk of injury.
In addition, don’t wear shoes past their prime; those well-worn sneakers can’t protect you as they should. Six months or 300-500 miles is usually the upper limit for running shoes.
Also, be smart about your equipment and use it properly. For example, adjust bicycle pedals and seat height to your measurements to avoid injury from imbalance or bad posture, and start slowly with weight machines, building up as your muscles gain strength.
4. Learn your moves
Exercise is all about moving, but if you move the wrong way, you can easily injure yourself, especially your joints. If you’re exercising solo, get some advice on mechanics from a personal trainer, physical therapist, or sports medicine physician who’s familiar with the equipment you’re using or the sport you’re playing.
5. Brace yourself
Knee braces generally don’t prevent injuries, but if you’re dealing with an old problem, or you’re trying to prevent repeated injuries like tears and strains, wearing a custom-made brace can protect the joint and associated soft tissues. It can also help reduce inflammation.
Even compression sleeves can be helpful, providing warmth and fighting swelling while preventing you from making a move that could end up hurting you again.
When you need knee care
If you do experience a knee injury, the doctors at Accelerated Medical can provide a swift diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Some of the therapies they offer include:
- Chiropractic care
- Massage therapy
- Custom orthotics
- Physiotherapy and rehabilitation
- Corrective exercises
- Regenerative medicine, including PRP therapy and mesenchymal stem cells
If you want more information about ways to protect your knees from injury, give Accelerated Medical a call at 775-753-7387, or schedule a consultation online. We can offer the right solution for all of your knee concerns.