Friday, December 21, 2007

The Knee...

There have been a lot of questions regarding whether does running contributes to knee problems. Therefore, here are some information regarding about our knees, extracted and modified from Runner's World.

Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, occurs when cartilage, the spongy tissue that cushions our joints breaks down and deteriorates, making weight-bearing activities painful. From there, many people believe that running accelerates this process. And while most of us credit our running for keeping our heart, lungs and soul healthy and happy, a twinge in an ankle or stiffness in a knee makes us wonder if our nonrunning buddies are right and our joints are bearing an unreasonable burden.

The number one risk factor of OA is excess body fat - a problem most runners don't have. Sedentary, overweight people are 45% more likely to develop OA than those who are active. The more we weigh, the more pressure is palced on the joints, which seems to accelerate the breakdown of cartilage. Since losing weight is one of the best ways to prevent OA (losing 10 pounds can take about 45 pounds of pressure off the knee), and running is one of the most effective calorie burners, hopping on the treadmill for a tempo session could help you sidestep joint issues.

But running does more than just lighten the body's load. Aerobic exercise improves most body functions - including joint health. When we exercise, the cartilage in the hips, knees and ankles compresses and expands. This draws in oxygen and lushes out waste products, nourishing and keeping the cartilage healthy. Without it, cartilage cells get weak and sick. Furthermore, running strengthens the ligaments that help support joints, making them more stable and less susceptible to sprains and strains, which can damage cartilage and eventually lead to OA.

Patellofemoral pain, or "Runner's knee", may be the top reason runners get sidelined. The anterior cruciate ligamend (ACL) is the most notorious of the four fibrous bands that stabilize the knee. But for runners, the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are more prone to injury because they tend to get overstretched, especially if one slips or fall. The first sign of MCL or LCL sprain is pain and swelling. Bruising usually occurs one or two days later. In more severe cases, sufferers complain that the knee feels as if it may give out. In any case of discomfort, refer to a sports-medicine specialist.

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