Griffin and Vonn Show Us: Knees Matter

Capital Games welcomes back Dr. Ray Solano, a chiropractor with a specialty in sports medicine who has been contributing posts about how injuries affect our teams.

Injuries like those to Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin, III, or U.S. Olympic skiier Lindsey Vonn remind us that the knees can be vulnerable. The knee joint is not only the largest joint in the body, but also one of the most complex. Although you cannot prevent a knee injury from taking place, recovery time after an injury may be shortened if your knees are healthy.

Its estimated that 20 percent of Americans over 55 live with moderate knee pain. For us non-Olympians, understanding that good knee health comes from good overall health can help reduce your risk for conditions like osteo-arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and more.

Here are five tips for heathier knees (#10, are you listening?):

Watch your weight. Weight loss may cut the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee. Research shows that carrying even a few pounds increases your chance of developing arthritis. Every pound you carry puts an average of five pounds of added stress on your knees when you move, so being just 10 pounds overweight is like having 50 extra pounds of pressure on your joints.

Exercise your knees to build and keep from losing muscle mass. Strengthening the front and back muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) of the thighs can help prevent knee trouble. Women are five to seven times more likely to suffer a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.

One way to reduce your risk of such an injury is to practice jumping and landing on a slightly bent knee.

And aim to strength-train your legs two to three times a week. Remember, motion is lotion for your knees.

Pace yourself. Follow the 10 percent rule: Never increase the duration or intensity of your exercise or activity by more than 10 percent in a week. Train for at least 8 weeks before beginning stressful activities such as skiing or running in a race.

Wear supportive shoes to minimize stress from the ground up. When your foot hits the ground, everything changes. Shoes with proper cushioning and arch supports allow for more natural movement patterns to take place. Therefore, minimizing the shock that can travel up into the knee joints. If you have a history of pronation (flat feet), consider a pair of custom made shoe orthotics, or insoles.

Don't wait to see a doctor if you have pain and swelling. With new technologies like MRI scans and arthroscopy, diagnosing and treating knee problems have become quicker, easier, and effective. Fortunately, many knee patients often need just physical therapy and home exercises to treat their conditions. You won’t know until you understand the cause of your problem, so err on the side of caution and find the right treatment.

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