Strong knees are so essential for so many reasons, but many people simply don’t have them. They help everything from everyday walking and standing, to preventing serious falls and injuries, but how does one get them the right way?
A new study shows that many women aren’t working their knees the right way – and may be increasing their risk for injuries. In fact, one in four women have daily knee pain, and study results show that women are more likely than men to experience knee injuries. This data has Loyola University Medical Center researchers working to explain why women have a higher risk for knee problems.
They studied the way many different athletes jump, and they discovered that female athletes have different leaping positions than men, and this increases the chances for injuries including ACL tears. The ACL is one of the four major ligaments in the knee.
According to Dr. Patrick McCulloch, a Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston orthopedic surgeon, “Women tend to land with the knees straighter and feet rotated inwards, compared to men who tend to land with more of a bend in the knee and the feet rotated slightly outward. This puts the knee in a better position to absorb shock.”
When the female athletes were put through a six week program meant to change the way they jump, the study found that they were 50 percent less likely to experience ACL injury. The program incorporated strength work for the muscles that surround the knees. Strong surrounding muscles have been shown to be a crucial part of reducing the risk for injury. The program also taught female athletes to use their hamstrings in landings more.
Some factors that increase a woman’s risk for knee injury, such as smaller ligaments and different types of hormones can’t be altered, but exercises that work to keep the hips, glutes and quads strong can all be helpful in keeping knees healthy and eliminate pain. Strong muscles can help take pressure off joints, and that can allow a person to stay active without as many pains and aches.
Those that are eager to strengthen the knees, should certainly do squats and lunges, but it’s a good idea to avoid jump squats if arthritis is an issue.
Ultimately, the best bet for keeping the knees strong and healthy is to maintain an active lifestyle and focus on all around leg and butt strengtheners. Not only will the legs be toned and look fabulous, but your knees will be comfortable and pain free for the long run. Strong knees mean strong legs, and can keep people active throughout life.