Protecting Knee Joints

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Protecting Knee Joints

Postby Canuck Singh » Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:48 pm

Anyone who has played basketball or football for years will tell you those types of high-impact sports sure takes their toll on joints such as the knees and ankles as well as the spine. Now research has confirmed that high-impact force not only damages joint tissue, it causes premature degeneration of cartilage and joint tissue.

When tissue is damaged by an impact-related injury, it typically stimulates an influx of leukocytes (immune cells) known for promoting tissue regeneration and healing. However this research showed that leukocytes can be a double edged sword. In the May 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas, presented the results of a study that suggest leukocytes go beyond the zone of damaged cells and attack healthy cartilage cells after an acute injury.

The results indicated that after damage had occurred via the impact, the leukocytes not only attacked the damaged cells (to clean up debris and promote healing), they also attacked and murdered surrounding healthy cartilage cells!

According to the researchers, the real culprit was the leukocytes' generation of noxious nitric oxide (NO). The scientists confirmed this by demonstrating that the killing of healthy cartilage cells (chondrocytes) could be averted by desferoxamine, a chemical that blocks the production of NO. Based on these results, it would appear as though a person plays high-impact sports should probably steer clear of taking supplements that promote NO production. The increase in NO and leukocytes may provide excessive damage to cartilage tissue that accelerates the degeneration of joint tissue.

Source: Arthritis & Rheumatism Vol54; 5, 2006.
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Re: Protecting Knee Joints

Postby Canuck Singh » Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:10 pm

The truth: When proper form is used, squats are healthier for your knees than the "safe" machines often used to replace them.


The truth is that squatters usually have healthier knees than non-squatters. Studies on top powerlifters have shown that their knees are actually in better shape radiographically (X-rayed) than the general population. Squatters also have much tighter ACLs than nonlifters, meaning that their knees are more stable and less prone to injury.

The most glaring irony is that squats are often replaced with "safer" exercises such as hack squats and Smith machine movements. According to Dr. Ken Kinakin, the machine hack squat leads to more knee problems than the barbell free squat.

Caption: How to perform a Smith machine squat. Step #1: Don't.

What's wrong with the Smith? First, there's zero functional transfer to real life, sports or other lifts. It develops strength in only one dimension, predisposing you to injury in the undeveloped planes of movement. This is sometimes called pattern overload syndrome, and it can lead to medical bills in the long run.

Second, because the bar is fixed, a person doing Smith machine squats is able to lean against the bar, which is a natural response. This minimizes hip extension, thus allowing the hamstrings to take a siesta during the movement. Trouble is, the hamstrings help to stabilize the knee during squats, and the result of taking them out of the picture is to induce a shearing force on the joint. This might ultimately lead to a blown anterior cruciate ligament. Using the Smith machine for all your squatting definitely leads to you being a big fat dork.

Summary: As with any exercise, squats are perfectly safe if you use the correct technique, even safer than the "safe" machines misguided trainers sometimes prescribe to replace them!
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