The patella or the kneecap is an essential part of the knees because it serves as a protective mechanism of the anterior portion of the knee joint. The patella is a separate bone, which is connected by ligaments to the muscles around the knees.
The knees are one of the busiest joints in the body considering the daily activities such as walking, running, jumping, bending and standing up among others. During these activities, the knee joints receive tension and may be predisposed to damages. The patella works in these instances to protect the knee joint from damage when the knees work. During direct trauma, the patella also absorbs the shock so the damage does not reach the knee joint, ligaments, muscles and tendons. The patella also has an important function during leg movement because it keeps the upper and lower leg in proper alignment as the quadriceps muscles contract. In order to offer continuous protection on the more delicate structures in the knees and maintain mobility, there should be proper care and protection for the patella as well.
To preserve that important protection on your knees, here are the ways by which you can protect your patella:
• Perform isotonic and isometric exercises of the quadriceps
The contraction of the quadriceps pulls the knee cap upward and subsequently maintains the alignment of the lower leg when someone stands or walks. In this line, stretching the quadriceps also has a direct benefit on the patella by making it more functional and responsive to movement. Isometric exercises involve those that tighten the quadriceps without moving the knee joint. Isotonic exercises, on the other hand, involve moving the joints in order to stretch or strengthen the muscles.
• Join yoga classes
Yoga is another way to help protect your patella. Certain yoga positions help balance opposite muscle groups in the legs and subsequently improve the stability of the knee.
• Use protective equipment during high-impact activities that may involve the knees
If playing hockey or other similar sports, make sure to use protective equipment such as a knee protector to provide cushion on the patella. This helps reduce shock and tension in case a direct blow to the knees happen.
• Reduce weight
When there is an excess weight that is placed on the knee joint as in the case of being obese or overweight, the knee cap may also be affected and may lead to knee cap fracture over time.
• Employ water exercises
Aside from yoga and stretching, water exercises also help protect the patella. Water exercises such as swimming and water aerobics apply a buoyant force around the knees and helps relieve stress on the area including the ligaments that hold the patella.
• Avoid activities that twist the knees
Activities that twist and bend the knees often such as golf can put a lot of strain on the ligaments and tendons that hold the patella in place. Make sure to employ these activities in moderation and employ warm-up and cold-down exercises before and after each activity.
The patella may just be a piece of bone over the knee joint, but protecting it means protecting the joint as well and preserving the ability to walk, stand, run and move the legs normally.