Ahhh the knee. So simple, yet complex. Today we are discussing the knee and its articular cartilage. This highly specialized connective tissue has a number of rolls including:
- It acts a a smooth, frictionless surface for the knee joint.
- It adds as a shock absorber between the two bones. You can thank this for being able to jump, run, walk with ease.
- Lastly, it helps in connecting the boney attachments together that form the knee.
While this is just one aspect to the knees makeup, what makes it unique?
- The articular cartilage lacks a blood supply. While this may seem beneficial, it creates difficulties when injured due to the requirements of a consistent blood flow for nutrients and inflammatory healing response.
- The knee sits in a synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant and carrier of nutrients and oxygen. These are beneficial for overall health and recovery after injury.
- When moving, the synovial fluid sits inside a membrane and as space decreases with pressure, it forces oxygen and nutrients into cartilage. If you don’t move, there is a limitation on the amount of oxygen and forced nutrients required of the cartilage. Due to the limited blood supply, the cartilage relies on this pressure difference during movement to ‘feed’ itself.
If there is no nutrients/ oxygen this creates muscle atrophy, gets smaller, and eventually thins out.
At this point, you may be asking yourself “What can I do to keep my knees strong and healthy?
- Keep moving! Seriously, do not stop moving. If you are a desk worker, stand up every 30 minutes and walk around for 30 seconds.
- Moderate anaerobic/ strength training
- Examples include large compound movements including squats, deadlifts, lunges, steps, etc.
- You do not need to get fancy with the movement, just add some weight and move!
- Provide variety of loads.
- If you can, try other movements including jumping, cutting, running, hopping, etc.
- Genetics (Small part)
- Unfortunately, scientists are now discovering a POTENTIAL genetic component to cartilage health. If you think you are pre-dispositioned to poor knee health, now is the time to take action!
We offer an easy to follow healthy knee guide where we dive in even more in-depth with how you can feel great again, improve your performance, and confidently handle activities without worry.
Now you know!