Do you live an active lifestyle? If so, that’s a good thing. An active lifestyle is more commonplace these days than it used to be, and not without reason – people are far more aware of the importance of staying fit than before. At the very least, the stigma of physical fitness being the province of jocks is more or less a thing of the past. While risks do exist, and knee injuries are common, people are remaining active. In fact, today it’s hardly even remarkable to see someone carrying a yoga mat with them as they go about their day before or after a good yoga routine, or someone biking their way to work if their distance and climate permit.
The ambition for living a healthy lifestyle is commendable, as there are more than enough risks of losing ourselves to a sedentary lifestyle these days, one has to respond to such risks with an active mindset and body.
If you’re looking to get into sports, that’s a good thing too. Again, the notion that sports – whether solo or team – are only for jocks is a bygone idea, and everybody these days tries are tying to be more balanced and well-rounded. Many professionals shed the suit and tie on the weekends for a good game of basketball or soccer with their friends or kids; this is becoming more and more popular even among middle-aged people who want to avoid slowing down too much as they advance in age. Family men and women have embraced such lifestyles too, as they find greater fulfillment in joining their kids in sports than they do just watching from the sidelines.
And if you’re already athletic and sports-involved, there is every reason to keep going, too – we want to make the most of what our days have to offer, and to do so we need to stay as healthy and fit as we realistically can. However, whether you’re getting into it or continuing to play, it’s a good idea to be safe and avoid knee injuries that can rob you of the enjoyment of the sport.
Knee injuries, for example, are notoriously difficult to bear and deal with. We hear about them all the time – some are career-threatening for our favorite athletes and sports entertainers. A knee injury tends to be career-threatening for a reason: the knee is essential for almost every sport, as our legs have to move us in position for virtually every moving sport. The knee assembly is formed by three bones that converge: the upper leg bone or femur, the kneecap or patella, and the lower leg bone or tibia. These bones are mediated by cartilage that allows them to interact without friction. This underappreciated assembly is so surprisingly complex in how it deals with carrying and distributing our weight – even under normal non-sports circumstances – that we tend to overlook it. Sadly, knee injuries are fairly common – making up some 55% of all sports injuries – and they can be hard to get past.
There are two major types of knee injuries: acute injuries and overuse injuries.
When a ligament tears, other tears tend to accompany it. ACL injuries are common in skiing, basketball, snowboarding, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and even lacrosse, while MCL injuries are usually seen in contact sports like wrestling or martial arts, and hockey. Overuse injuries tend to be seen a lot in running, swimming, cycling, rugby and the like.
Knee injuries have varying symptoms usually depending on what specific part of the assembly is affected. Symptoms generally include swelling, redness, stiffness, limping, instability, and problems like knee locking or an inability to straighten the knee. ACL injuries are usually accompanied by a loud popping sound and immediate flash of pain, while MCL injuries are usually accompanied by pain when the MCL is given pressure as well as increasing instability. Partial, incomplete and complete MCL tears are possible too.
There are ways to prevent athletic knee injuries too, mainly having to do with adequate protection and support as well as intelligent and prudent movement.