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  • Writer's pictureFi Dean


Put that dumbbell down and listen up: muscles aren't everything. Your joints make your whole body tick but like any mechanical system they are prone to wear and tear. Without well functioning joints, it is challenging to add muscle, shed fat or get anything done around the house. To maintain them, you need to understand how they work and the threats they face. Over the next few months, I will tell you how to keep your six major joints in tip top condition. This month, let's look at the knees.

TYPE OF JOINT: Four main ligaments bind the thigh (femur) with the shin (tibia) and kneecap (patella). Knees are a versatile and strong hinge joint but are vulnerable to a number of complaints. TOP THREAT: Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear. This is a sprain of the front ligament of the two that cross each other inside the knee. CAUSE: Excess force from pivoting in everyday movements or sports such as rugby, tennis or even golf. TREATMENT: Surgery is usually needed, especially if you want to play sports again. The Surgeon would often take a graft of your patella or hamstring tendon (or a cadaver tendon) and uses it to reconstruct the ligament. DEFENCE: Stronger leg muscles make the knee joints more stable. To strengthen yours, do these three exercises in a series: walking lunges (3 sets of 20 reps), Russian hamstrings (kneel on the floor with a partner holding your ankles, then lean forward with a straight back for 3 sets of 10-15 reps) and single toe raises (Google them! 30 reps each side) PROTECT YOUR KNEES: The forceful movements that cause tears can also damage the meniscus, a rubbery cartilage wedge that provides cushioning inside the knee. Ageing also weakens the cartilage, but as usual attack is the best from of defence, so preventing injury and enhancing performance is a good strategy. WATCH OUT: Surgery isn't always the best bet for a torn meniscus. If you are over 50 and the tear is degenerative, you are better with physical therapy and maybe even cortisone injections.

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