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Monday, December 15, 2008

Common Knee Injuries, Uncommon Sense

The growth of organized amateur sports over the past 30 years has spawned an unexpected and unwanted increase in sports-related injuries. Many young athletes suffer sports-related injuries that can turn into lifelong problems.
To learn why our knees are injured so frequently, it's important to know how the knee works. The knee joint is composed of four bones: the femur, the tibia, the fibula and the patella. Cartilage covers the joint and provides a smooth, lubricated gliding surface so the knee can move. The shape of the knee joint is stable, but to function properly, the ligaments have to be in good shape, too! Those ligaments include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
While the ACL works as the main stabilizer when the knee is bent, the PCL works as the main stabilizer when the knee is extended. The collateral ligaments are used when you move side to side. The medial and lateral menisci are located within the joint and act as "shock absorbers" and also influence knee stability. The most commonly injured parts of the knee are the ACL and the medial meniscus. Tears of the meniscus usually take place during twisting, pivoting, or decelerating movements, or as a result of direct impact.
A vast majority of people, young and old, excessively pronate. This means that when the foot hits the ground, it flattens out or unlocks, rolling inward and creating a twisting stress up the leg and into the knee. These twisting stresses do three things to the knees: stretch the ACL, stretch and twist the medial meniscus, and inhibit contraction of the quadriceps muscle.
Common sense tells us to prevent the excessive damaging motions by supporting the foundational structures (your feet) so they function within the functional range of motion. Many chiropractors now evaluate the quality of the arches of the feet. If the arches aren't supporting the legs and pelvis sufficiently, it can create stresses that lead to injury or joint wear and tear. It's just like the foundation of your house; if it settles too much, it creates stress in other parts of the structure.
Take a proactive step to avoiding injuries and preserving the health of your knees, hips and spine. After all, you know what they say about "an ounce of prevention." Ask your doctor for a thorough foot evaluation, particularly if you're experiencing knee pain or participate in activities that put you at risk for a knee injury.

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