We all know you need your knees for a lot of things, whether it’s bending down to pick something up, running, walking or even flexing your quads in front of the mirror to see your progress and not to impress the girl next to you. However this little bone can unfortunately get ill too just like the rest of the other gazillion body parts!
The knee cap is a small sesamoid bone which lies in front of the thigh and shin bone. It’s sort of in between the 2 bigger bones. Before I go on you guys must be thinking what in God’s name is a sesamoid?!! Well Sesamoid bones are very small bones and they often develop in places with a considerable amount of friction. These bones prevent from friction occurring between larger bones which then prevents wear and tear and offers smooth locomotion between joints. So you have one in your knee joint and one in your hand which prevents friction from overbearing your movement patterns. So now that’s established let’s look at a bit of the anatomy of that joint….
The knee cap or patella is held in place by the very strong quadriceps muscles to the thigh bone. There are 4 of these bad boys and they all converge in to a tendon which joins to the knee cap. Furthermore, there is a patella ligament which attaches to the shin bone, it’s sort of a continuation from the quadriceps tendon. So these 2 connective tissues along with many others which I won’t bore you with hold that knee cap in place to allow smooth, frictionless locomotion. This happens when the patella slides over the femur (thigh bone) groove and allows healthy flexion and extension. So I’m telling you this why exactly ? Well read on then!
There is an injury called ‘runner’s knee’ which originates yes from the knee joint (good guess!). Now remember above where we discussed that many connective tissues hold that knee cap in place to allow smooth motions? Well this injury occurs when there is movement yes but not the type that your joints love. What happens is if you have weak quadriceps muscles or your running mechanics is not quite right or even if you play sports such as basketball putting constant pressure on the knee, your kneecap will move left and right, creating pressure, friction and irritation. Now the kneecap if smoothly running does not touch the thigh bone, it is protected with cartilage and other fluid filled sacs to allow efficient motions, but when you constantly create pressure and allow that knee to laterally move you start rubbing against that thigh bone. Now this jiggling around can seriously grind down the cartilage under your kneecap causing it to become all rough and gritty like a piece of sandpaper you use in DIY and consequently you will experience a lot of pain under or around your kneecap and it will be even more painful when running downhill or downstairs, squatting or even sitting on the toilet to have a ****!
Obviously with every problem there is a solution and runner’s knee can be rectified. You can get your gait checked to see your biomechanics whether you have knocked knees, supinate, pronate and whether you have tight hamstrings which are causing your quads to be weak. This can all be done at specified running shops and biomechanic centres. Now I know the average Joe wouldn’t have access to specialised running centres but there are strength and rehab exercises you can do!
Some easy ones such as:
1. Lying leg lifts
2. Gym ball half squats
3. Seated foot turn outs
4. Seated foot turn ins
There are plenty of exercises on the internet for issues like this so just have a good scroll through them and if need to have a peak on youtube.
Runner’s knee isn’t a joke so please take it seriously! Well if you experience any knee issues and they haven’t subsided in the first week after you have done the standard RICE procedure then get down to your doctors and issue an appointment. This symptom obviously affects runners the most hence the name but can occur to anybody utilising their knee joints. If you also want to test if you have it look on google and type in ‘Clarks test’ and it will come up with the method.
How long do you need to rest you say? Well that depends on the severity of the injury and how stubborn you are! I know a lot of people who are stubborn (not me if anybody who knows me is reading this!) and they just don’t rest their joints as they’re hooked on ‘I want to be fit!’. Well you can improvise and train other body parts whilst keeping that part out of the equation. But recovery can take from 1 – 2 weeks to 6 months so you know it’s a serious matter!
So there you have it people another symptom that you should be aware of and take not of. But that’s with anything, if you experience pain and it isn’t subsiding then head to your doctors and get it checked up. If the injury is going slowly with your RICE procedure with deep heat and ice packs then carry on until you are healed up and then ease back in to exercise! By the way if anybody doesn’t know what RICE stands for it’s – Rest Ice Compression Elevation. Some people say PRICE which is the same but just Protect in front – Just thought I’d add that in.
Anyway that’s all for this time, stay safe out there everybody, use good technique, eat right and be careful.
It is unfortunate if you do fall down with an injury but we’re all human at the end of the day!