How to strengthen knee ligaments
Strengthening your knee ligaments can help ward off future injury and recurring problems
Major sport comes with its fair share of difficulties and one that is all too familiar for most keen athletes or hobbyists is the dreaded knee pain. Simply put, most sports involve high stress put on the knees, particularly any sports that involve running and cycling. A lot of weight and stress is put on your knee joints and this can result in damage. This impact is made worse by bad technique and general lack of experience but even the very best suffer from knee pain and knee-related injuries.
Overall, 41% of sports related injuries are knee-based with 20% being related to the ACL. Those with prior experience of knee injuries or with particular knee conditions such as arthritis will often be discouraged from running and other high-intensity activities as these can inflame or worsen the knee’s condition. However, running and cycling done in the right quantities can be incredibly useful in strengthening our knee’s ability to withstand heavy stress so ensuring a consistent pattern of exercise will do you a lot of good in ensuring that you reduce the chances of knee pain and knee injuries.
So, how can one maximise the advantages of running while still preventing injuries? The majority of "injuries" that runners have are actually overuse injuries that affect the tendons that attach different muscles to the bones in the knee joint. For instance, "Runners knee," an inflammation of the substantial band of tissue that serves as the knee joint's stabilising framework. This and inflammation of the patellar tendon are the two issues that runners encounter most frequently. The internal joint structures may also be affected by less frequent issues.
The most common and popular way to strengthen your knee ligaments is by simply exercising frequently and by employing regular stretching into your daily routine. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most effective exercises you can do to reduce knee pain as well as looking at other ways you can improve your knee strength. These stretches and exercises are designed to be accessible for as many people as possible but if you have a serious injury or knee problem, it’s worth consulting your GP or consultant first to make sure you won’t end up worsening the problem or hurting yourself.
Nutrition Advice for Stronger Knees
As with all things exercise, your diet and nutritional intake will have a big impact on keeping your knee ligaments in good condition during long training runs and sessions. Ligaments are made up of collagen so obviously eating a lot of collagen-boosting foods as part of your recovery post-run will be supportive. Foods and minerals such as :
- Manganese – nuts, legumes, seeds, whole grains, leafy green veggies
- Omega-3 – salmon, mackerel, basically fish
- Vitamin A – liver, veg such as carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, greens such as kale and spinach
- Vitamin C – fruits and berries such as guava, blackcurrant, kiwi, orange, lemon, strawberries, papaya, pineapple, grapefruit
- Sulfur – cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, turnips, brussel sprouts, bok choy), allium veggies (garlic, onion, leeks, chives), eggs, fish, poultry
- Protein is also important as it helps with muscle recovery so it can be useful to reduce the strain on the ligaments and it is just important to work a lot of protein into your recovery which you will likely know.
Use swimming as a relief
As mentioned above, exercise can be a great way to strengthen your knee ligaments and many people find that swimming is a great way to do exercise without hurting your knees. While this isn’t necessarily true and you can certainly do damage to your knees while swimming, swimming does have a lot of benefits :
- When you swim, the buoyancy of the water supports your weight, which means your joints are under less stress and you may experience less pain.
- Many people find that swimming is a safe approach to engage in strenuous exercise. The warmth of the water may also help to calm your joints and reduce pain if you swim in it.
- Regular swimming will help the muscles supporting your knees grow, increasing the structure of the joint. This can not only lessen current discomfort but also lower the likelihood of future discomfort.
Swimming is a wonderful cardiovascular workout that can aid in weight loss, fitness, and calorie burning. One of the finest things you can do to lessen knee pain is to lose weight. According to one study, the pressure on the knee joint is reduced by four pounds for every pound of weight eliminated.
Seeking the support of a specialist
At the end of the day, you could do everything right and still end up with pain and discomfort after a long run or bout of exercise. While everything listed here should help you with knee strengthening and reduce the chances of knee injuries, there could still be issues while running. If you do come into discomfort and you can’t easily identify what might be causing it, it is best to seek the help of a professional knee consultant. There’s nothing worse than putting in the effort for a triathlon training camp and potentially ending up hurting yourself and wasting all of that time and energy and if you continue to train, you could end up exacerbating the injury and causing yourself more problems down the line.
A knee specialist is better equipped to help you identify the issue and potentially get you support or surgery if required. It may be something as simple as planting your foot wrong but as leading knee consultant Dr Owen Wall stated :
‘Being provided with an expert opinion and diagnosis can go a long way to helping you understand why you may have developed the issues and what methods you can undertake to correct the underlying causes and help treat the current problems.’
Sometimes, you just aren’t going to be aware of an issue until you seek outside guidance and support. As human beings, we can only see so much and we tend to ignore our own bad habits or write off our own pain as insignificant. Seeking the help of a professional allows you to get a more accurate picture of your problems and can give you actionable advice which can help perform better in the long run.
Hopefully, this advice and these general tips will help you to strengthen your ligaments and reduce the level of your discomfort while exercising or taking part in events. Knee pain will still be a problem at times but taking the right measures can really help make all the difference to you and your level of performance. If you do find that you are having persistent issues with your knees, make sure you seek help and guidance from an expert who can diagnose, treat and help you return to an active lifestyle as quickly as possible.
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