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There's a Bone Crunching Truth about a Woman's Knees

Sandra Prior
Jul 26, 2008
I've never had a particularly good relationship with my knees. In ballet school when, as a plump five year old with stubby legs and chubby arms, dreaming of glory on stage, the teacher confided in my mother that I would never be a star. 'She's knock-kneed', she sighed.

My mother declared that the teacher was obviously alarmed by my astonishing progress and jealous that I, and not her own precious daughter, would soon be the one auditioning for the Royal Ballet School.

But within a year or two I began to suspect that ballet was not for me, and took up horse riding instead. At least that way my knock knees were being kept apart. Horse riding proved godsend. It strengthened my muscles and ligaments and the plump little humps and bumps that hid my patellae quickly disappeared, exposing finely planed bones. But school hockey injuries colored those beautiful planes in alarming shades of purple, criss crossing them with ridged scars, and it was at this point that my knees and I lost all respect for each other.

In adulthood, vanity has given way to early morning stiffness and those awful crunching sounds that follow when you stand up after being seated for long periods. 'You should exercise', said my best friend - the same one who spends thousands on chiropractors after every half marathon. But I stayed on the sofa and swallowed calcium tablets because I know that the incidence of torn ligaments has reached epidemic proportions among women. Research conducted by the US military showed that women have weaker muscle control than men, making them more prone to injury.

Orthopedic surgeons say the only solution is to embrace exercise, and to do it wisely. Jumping off the sofa after years as a soap addict and rushing into a high impact aerobics class, makes no sense. Nor does abandoning a gentle morning's gardening to run a grueling 50km marathon. What women should be doing is following an exercise program that will slowly strengthen and build up their muscles, thus avoiding knee injury.

Too many women suffer torn ligaments - and too fast, they're rushed into surgery, a treatment option which has a high failure rate in women because our weaker bone density makes it more difficult to effect permanent ligament attachment.

Strengthening Exercises

Weight bearing exercise (walking, running, bodybuilding) is an effective way to strengthen muscles and bones. As an added bonus, you may notice an increase in your range of movement. This benefit is more pronounced if you include stretching or yoga in your routine. Any bodybuilding exercise routine MUST be accompanied by stretching exercises. Use light weights and high repetitions if you are over 35. Increase the weights gradually as you become stronger.

Inside the Knee

The keen is designed for its own protection. It's completely surrounded by a joint capsule that's lined with synovial tissue, which secretes synovial fluid to lubricate the joint. Ligaments along the sides and the back of the knee reinforce the joint capsule, adding stability. The knee cap protects the front of the joint.
About the Author
Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at http://bodybuild.rr.nu.
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