Our knees are an essential part of daily movement and facilitate activities like walking, running, sitting down and standing up. The knee is one of the largest joints in our body and supports a lot of movement while providing stability. Bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons work together to help the leg move and function properly. The knee connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), and together with the fibula and patella (kneecap) make up the knee joint.
Healthy knees are important for daily functional movement and for anyone who wants to run. Knee pain is a regular complaint among runners and common knee injuries include things like runner's knee, IT band syndrome, bursitis, ligament tears and more. One of the most common myths about running is that it will "ruin your knees" (how many times has someone told you that!?). In actuality, running can be good for your knees.
About 7 percent of the running group being followed had mildly arthritic knees at the onset of the study, while none of the control group had arthritic knees. After 20 years, the runners' knees were healthier than the control groups' knees! Only 20 percent of the runners showed arthritic changes in the knee, while 32 percent of the control group showed arthritic changes. And, better yet, barely 2 percent of the runners' knees were severely arthritic, while almost 10 percent of the control groups' knees were severely arthritic.
You can prevent knee injuries by being smart about your running...get fitted for the right shoes, learn proper running mechanics, be mindful of pre-existing conditions, slowly increase distance and speed and get to know your knees. I got the following breakdown from
that explains all the different parts that make up the knee.
· Articular cartilage – this firm, white material covers the ends of the bones
· Menisci – these extra cartilage pads between the thigh bone and lower leg bone (inside the knee) help absorb shock and keep the bones from grinding against each other. There are two (medial and lateral) in each knee
· MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) – these ligaments help hold the knees intact by limiting sideways motion
· PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) – these ligaments help control forward and backward movements
· Bursae – these fluid-filled sacs enable the knee joints to move smoothly
· Quadriceps – these muscles at the front of the thigh is connected to the patella tendon and helps you straighten your leg
· Hamstrings – these muscles attach to the tibia and help you bend your knee
The knee is a very complex joint and with understanding and care you can keep your knees healthy and so you can keep running happy!