Here’s a sneak preview of a guest blog post Siobhan Milner wrote for To Be Personal Training in Christchurch, New Zealand on strength training to look after our joints. Enjoy!
We know strength training is great for functional fitness (so we can get in and out of low chairs well into older age, and continue to carry our loads of firewood inside), but it’s also great for preventing injury.
Knees tend to be one of those joints that start to get niggly if we don’t look after them – and one of the best ways to keep your knee healthy (even if it’s been previously injured) is to keep the surrounding musculature strong.
Our muscles exist not just to help us lift things or move, but also to support our joints during activity. If we don’t keep strong, our joints risk becoming ‘ligament dominant’ (1). Essentially, this means that the muscles surrounding the joints aren’t strong enough to protect the joint and keep it in place, so the ligaments have to compensate. Our ligaments are made to assist our muscles at keeping our joints in place – not act as their only anchor!
Not only this, but if you’re ligament-dominant, your joints can’t absorb ground reaction forces as well as they should. When thinking about the knees in particular, this can increase our risk of an ACL injury when jumping, pivoting or slowing down. This is of particular concern to those in team sports which require quick turns or jumps during a game.
So what can we do to look after our knees?