How to Bulletproof Your Knees Against Injury:
The knees seem to be the first joint to experience debilitating deterioration from general wear and tear. This however does not have to be everyone’s eventual fate. The reasoning behind bad knees as we age has to do with the bodies reduced rate of bone-building and the general choice of exercise chosen by older athletes:
Avoid Long Distance Running:
This seems to be the exercise of choice for older athletes. It is understandable because endurance is something the older body is still relatively efficient at. However, any long-distance running that is performed daily for more than 10km at a time will lead to the repetitive wearing down of the bone and its cartilage without enough time to recover, leading to a massive loss of bone and articulation over time. This does not mean that you cannot do any long-distance running but you either have to sacrifice how far you run a day or limit the days of the week in which you go running to just 2 evenly spaced-out days if you don’t want to sacrifice distance.
Avoid Doing Sprints Too Often:
Now I know this may seem like I want you to stop moving altogether but that is not what I am saying. Sprinting has proven to be very beneficial for the health of one’s knee, but it is quite high impact and if it is done too often then it can be detrimental to the integrity of the capsule and its surrounding connective tissues. Again, the same thing with distance running, you need to give yourself enough time to recover from a session. It is recommended that one should only do about 4 days a week of sprinting and no more. It is also advised to evenly spread out the sessions, with a maximum of two in a row. This can only be done more than distance running due to the shorter duration that it requires.
Do Low-Intensity Compression of the Knee:
There are multiple ways to do this, there are a couple of exercises that you can do to stimulate the fragile joint capsule. The biggest one is sled pulls assisted by a rope, it provides enough low impact tension in the connective tissues to strengthen them without them needing more than a day to recover. You can load up the sled quite heavily without it being detrimental. One should actually load it up as heavy as one can go and still be able to pull it.
Do Plyometrics Once a Week:
Plyometrics are explosive movements that are done rapidly with maximum power. The best plyometric movement to strengthen the knees would be the box jump. Now the box jump can be quite hard on the knees, however, if you give them enough time to recover from it: It would prove highly beneficial in strengthening them. Do not make the mistake of doing plyometrics more than twice a week, that would lead to eventual injury. The recommended amount would be once a week on a day without much activity (Could be a leg day or rest day).
Knees can be the greatest hindrance for being able to stay active in one’s older years, it doesn’t have to be though. We just have to realize that the majority of what we have been taught about them has been wrong, adjust accordingly, and live the active life that we have always wanted.