An important — and romantic — exception to the rule

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

MOVE WITH EASE ON YOUR KNEES

Evolution is a funny thing. Modern man supposedly evolved from what scientists commonly refer to as Homo Erectus, yet we tend to spend a tremendous amount of our daily lives in a less-than-upright position. To be more specific, we bend and straighten, many times a day, a movement which requires the complex effort of the knee joint.

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Two major muscle groups work in concert to enable the knee joint to move. Extension of the knee is facilitated when the quadriceps muscle contracts. The hamstring, on the back of the thigh, is responsible for bending the knee as it contracts. Stabilization of the knee joint requires the cooperative effort of four ligaments.

Given how busy our knees are in an average day, it is no wonder that they are often the site of discomfort and even injury. As the largest joint in the human body, the knee takes a lot of abuse! Overuse injuries are among the most common sources of knee pain — climbing the stairs, cycling and jogging all place stress on the joint — which can lead to inflammation and soreness. While these activities are a part of many of our daily activities, there are ways to strengthen and protect this precious joint to help ward off potential problems.

Maintaining proper form and alignment when performing aerobic or strength-training movements is a must for ensuring longevity of the knee joint. Avoiding repetitive movements, or those that place the knee under prolonged stress, can help preserve the integrity of the knees. Even wearing shoes with good arch support can help to maintain good posture, which takes undue stress off of the knee joint. Stretching the lower body after a strenuous workout and icing sore knees if necessary are also good tips for keeping those knees healthy and happy.

My grandmother used to remind us never to spend too much time kneeling, for all of the reasons mentioned above. She sure knew what she was talking about! But gentlemen, listen up: there is one good time for you to be on your knees – one knee, actually – and that is when proposing to the love of your life.

Last weekend, as I watched our future son-in-law get down on one knee in front of our daughter and open a black velvet box, I must admit I was not thinking of the well-being of his knee joint! But aside from this one unique instance, remember to treat the knees with ease, and they will be around to serve you all of your life.

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.