The knee is the largest joint in the human body and because of its exposed position it is highly vulnerable to injury. Any repetitive motion, as well as falls and other straining movements, can result in painful injuries to the joint and the surrounding areas. Anyone who is trying to stay fit knows that exercise such as running, biking, and aerobics can put a tremendous amount of strain on the knees, sometimes leading to painful injuries. While there are many treatments available for knee injuries from mild pulls to severe tears to the ligaments, prevention of these injuries is always preferable.
Many doctors and athletic trainers recommend knee braces and supports to prevent knee pain and injuries. These devices range from very simple sleeves to more complicated hinged braces that provide additional support. Using these devices can prove very beneficial both in preventing knee pain and injuries and protecting existing concerns from getting worse. For many, consistent use of knee braces and sleeves can postpone knee replacement surgeries.
Knee Bracing Options
For many the most appropriate form of knee brace is a sleeve. These neoprene devices are designed to slip over the knee and hold the area snugly. These sleeves can be purchased directly from pharmacies, making them easily accessible for patients and athletes that desire simple pain relief and support. A sleeve provides benefits by:
- Applying gentle heat to the area
- Compressing the injured area to prevent excessive movement
- Offering moderate support during normal activities and mild athletic activity
For more serious chronic injuries as well as people coping with osteoarthritis or other joint weaknesses, an “unloader” brace is a better option. These rigid devices feature plastic and foam components as well as hinges to allow for controlled movement of the knee while also offering support. This type of brace provides benefits by:
- Providing firmer support to the knee area
- Guiding the bending and movement of the joint along an appropriate trajectory to prevent tears and strains
- Applying directed pressure to specific points along the thigh bone which eases the pressure on the more vulnerable inside of the knee by directing it toward the outside of the joint.
Tips for Protecting the Knees while Getting Fit
Just being cautious about daily activities can further prevent knee problems. Some tips for guarding knee health while getting fit include:
- Knee injuries are some of the most common injuries suffered as a result of automotive accidents. Vehicle safety belts should always be worn when travelling.
- Never try to carry items that weigh too much.
- When trying to reach something always use a stable step stool rather than a chair or other piece of furniture. This will help prevent the item from shifting unexpectedly and straining or tearing the ligaments in the knee joint.
- Always warm up carefully before engaging in physical activity.
- Stay active. Even if it is just walking for a few minutes each day, keeping the knee joint moving will help prevent it from getting weak and more susceptible to injury.
Knees are highly vulnerable to injury not just because they are used so frequently, but because of their susceptible positioning on the body. Protecting knees from pain and injury can be accomplished through basic lifestyle considerations as well as using knee braces and sleeves to offer support, compression, and stability in movement.
Guest Author: A former dance instructor and athletic trainer, Rebecca Morris has worked with many athletes in treating and preventing knee injuries. She recommends Betterbraces.com, a company providing a variety of knee braces and sleeves designed to facilitate the healing and prevention of knee pain and injury.