The body’s largest joint is the knee and it happens to be fairly complicated. Bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage make up the joint, which is mainly responsible for supporting your body’s weight. The knee’s design allows you to twist, turn and of course bend your leg. The knee can be easily compromised, considering all the parts involved in its anatomy.
An estimated 7 million Americans seek medical care annually for knee injuries sustained during sports or recreation, a majority of which have to do with the patellar. Of high school sports-related injuries, an estimated 200,000 knee injuries account for 14% of sports injuries annually. And high school athletes aren’t the only ones susceptible to patella injury. Here are some ways that may help you prevent an injury to your patellar.
Stretch and Warm-up Prior to Playing Sports
As simple as it sounds, warming up and stretching before exercise or playing sports can help to prevent patellar injury. Mobility movements that warm up your muscles and joints relieve stress on tendons and ligaments surrounding the patella. Stretching the areas above and behind the knees at the thigh muscles will help.
Watch your Weight
As previously mentioned, your knee is responsible for supporting the weight of your body. When the body is overweight it increases stress on the knee. Your knee is designed to support the weight that is appropriate to your height. Measure your BMI to determine if you’re within the range that is appropriate for a person of your stature. (Body/Mass/Index is the measurement of body fat, based on weight in correlation to height.) Your physician or trainer can assess your BMI. You can also calculate the measurement with an online BMI calculator.
Obesity could cause the knee to give out/buckle. This is when the patella is forced out of the joint, which also increases the risk of a fall.
Maintaining a healthy weight will decrease the chance of patellar injury.
If your knee is prone to injury or if you want to lose weight to help your knees, then start with a low-impact exercise. A low-impact exercise does exactly as its name implies. It minimizes impact to your knees and other joints. Choose machines at the gym that will provide a good, but low impact workout. If your knees hurt while running, look to low-impact exercises such as cycling, swimming, or walking.
Weight training decreases the odds of a knee injury. Muscles that are built up in the legs support the knee. So, don’t avoid leg day. However, lifting weights incorrectly is dangerous, and powerlifting should be performed under supervision and with knowledgeable spotters. Speak with your coach or personal trainer about the proper way to lift weights for optimum results and to avoid injury.
This is one time that style really does count, but not how you think. Brand names aren’t important, but support is. Wear proper shoes for proper support of your body and not only for exercise. Shoes that fit properly, provide support, and provide ergonomic cushioning at all times provides balance and alignment. Proper alignment of the feet to legs is important, as it aids against a patella displacement.
The Right Stuff
You love sports. You love to stay active. Fine. If your doctor says it’s okay to continue playing sports, it’s okay. However, it is extremely important to wear the appropriate gear for the sport you play. Wear knee protection and shin guards to protect the knee area. Not wearing proper gear leaves you unprotected. It just makes sense. Don’t avoid wearing protective gear. You may never need it, but wear it anyway.
Prevent patellar injuries by staying vigilant against the possibility. If you feel you are at risk, speak to a health professional about the steps you can take toward prevention.
Advanced Bone & Joint, formerly St. Peters Bone & Joint Surgery provides world-class pain management and orthopedic care to St. Peters, St. Charles, O’Fallon, Lake St. Louis, Wentzville, Troy, Warrenton, Bridgeton, Dardenne Prairie, Maryland Heights, Florissant, Chesterfield and surrounding areas of Missouri. Visit our Orthopedic Urgent Care during our extended office hours between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday for immediate care by an orthopedic physician. No appointment is necessary, so call us today.