Strong knees are critical to a balanced, healthy, and active life. About 600,000 Americans have their knees replaced every year and over 1 million people will have arthroscopic knee surgery each year.*
Why are there so many knee surgeries? Believe it or not, the knee is one of the most simple joints in our body. It has two bony surfaces and a patella that acts as a pulley. It’s considered a hinge joint since it only moves in one plane of motion, flexing and extending. There’s very little lateral motion allowed at the knee and it’s stabilized by ligaments and muscle tendons. The cushion is provided by the menisci and the cartilage that lies on the surface of the bones. Even though it seems simple, it’s actually an amazing structure that we have not been able to replicate from scratch with as much efficiency!
The knee takes the brunt of pressure and weight of our bodies. The joint is covered with cartilage on both bones that sometimes wears out which leads to osteoarthritis which could result in a replacement surgery. Arthroscopic surgeries are usually done for tears in the menisci or a for a ligament like the ACL.
We cannot change osteoarthritis or repair a torn structure at the knee once the damage has been done. We can, however, prevent increased wear and the likelihood of injury by keeping our knees strong, aligned and not overloading them with excessive body weight. The knee is surrounded by many muscles. The quads are on the front of the thigh with the engulfed patella in the tendon, the hamstrings form the posterior side and the adductor or inner thighs muscles are found on the medial side. The lateral side has less musculature but has the infamous IT band that runs the side of the leg in order to balance the lateral structure. When all these muscles are strong, the knee takes less load and is more stable.
I know that was a lot of technical information, but hopefully it gave you a peek into how the knee functions and a better understanding of why knee health is crucial for overall health, especially as we age. Join one of our knees-focused classes this week to learn how to keep those precious knees functional with minimal pain as long as possible! Next up: Thursday at 8:30 AM pst.
Looking forward to seeing you on your mat and helping you strengthen your knees!
Zeina Grifoni, MPT and Synergy+ PT & Pilates Founder
*Please check out these articles for additional information:
Healthline: Total Knee Replacement Surgery: https://www.healthline.com/health/total-knee-replacement-surgery/outcomes-statistics-success-rate
National Institute of Health: Knees: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5990328/#!po=32.6087