The knees are hinge joints, meaning that they can bend and extend. They have the important role of carrying us around all day, so it’s understandable that they can get a little sore from time to time! The actual joint itself is the meeting place of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone), with the patella (kneecap) sitting inside the tendon at the front.
It’s not just bone in there though - there are structures in the knee joint such as menisci (shock absorbers) and ligaments (like sticky tape) to increase stability and allow you to move with ease.
Of all the research out there, the strongest predictor of good outcomes for sore knees is long term adherence to lifestyle changes - picking something and sticking to it. Having said that, improvements and strength and function have been found from just one month of an exercise program.
How movement can help:
Looking after your knees is no easy feat, however research has shown that the following factors can prevent future problems:
• Watching your weight: Just 1kg of weight loss results in a 4kg decrease in force within the knee joint.
• Strengthening your legs: Having weak muscles in the thighs is especially associated with the onset of osteoarthritis in the knees.
• Staying aerobically fit: If you can walk, continue to walk. Studies have shown that regular walking reduces pain and increases knee function.
• Moving regularly: Motion is like lotion for the joints, keeping them moving smoothly. Finding low-impact ways to be active, even when you are in a little bit of pain, actually assists your joints in the long term!
Did you know:
The knee is the largest joint in the human body. Babies are born without proper kneecaps. The patella bone, which sits inside the tendon at the front of the knee joint, is fully formed at around 5 years of age.
Before you start:
For each of the following exercises, ensure that your body is nice and warm (for example, after a hot shower) or after placing heat packs on your knees for at least 10 minutes.
- Cycling (exercise bike or pedal exerciser); building up 5 minutes at a time to 30 minutes
- Seated knee straightens; 2 x 10 on each side with 3 second hold at the end of each
- Seated knee bends; 2 x 10 on each side
- Rising from a chair; 2 x 10
- Leg straighten and lifts; 2 x 10
- Band leg press; 2 x 10
- Rising from a chair with one foot forward; 3 x 10
- Standing knee straightens with band; 3 x 10
- Air squats; 3 x 10