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Ladies: Take A Knee

Did you hear about Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn? She just broke Annemarie Moser-Proell's record of 62 World Cup wins that held for 35 years. Vonn now has 63 wins. Not only that, Vonn did it just two years after a spectacular crash which required surgery to fix her ACL and MCL. You may not be a world-class athlete, but chances are you or someone you know has suffered a world-class knee injury. If you’re a woman, this is even more likely.

It’s no secret that men and women are built differently.
Men tend to bulk up a bit more when building muscle. Women tend to be more flexible. Weight loss proceeds more quickly for men in general (sorry ladies). The places in which we injure ourselves are slightly different as well. 

Knee injuries are just one example.
Women are two to eight times more likely than men to have certain kinds of knee problems like tears in the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or MCL (medial collateral ligament). The ACL prevents the knee from moving side to side and forward and backward. The MCL helps prevent the overextension of the knee joint from side to side. An ACL or MCL injury often requires surgery and extensive rehabilitation to recovery fully.

It isn’t known exactly why women suffer these injuries more often, although scientists are looking at hormonal fluctuations and estrogen.

Preventing Knee Injuries
There are several ways to prevent knee injuries. Whether you are a man or a woman, take note of these helpful tips:
  • Warm up. Stretching is a great way to warm up your leg muscles. Those leg muscles protect your knee and keep it in place.
  • Cool down. The same stretches you did before exercising should be repeated when you’re done with your workout, volleyball game or yoga class.
  • Start slow. If you’re starting a new exercise program, don’t go whole hog right away. Go half hog to make sure nothing is squealing.
  • Good shoes. Make sure your shoes fit well and are the right kind for the sport or exercise you’re doing.
  • Lose weight. Carrying excess weight is hard on your knees. Maintain a healthy weight and your knees will thank you.
  • Build muscle. Strong hamstrings and quadriceps will help keep your knee in place. Try walking up stairs or hills, riding a bike, wall squats or other leg muscle builders.
Preventing a knee injury is a big deal. It took Vonn two years to recover, during which recovery was likely her full time job.

And remember that no exercise should ever cause pain. If it hurts – stop doing it! Muscle soreness after a vigorous workout is normal and to be expected. However, a sharp piercing pain is a sign that something isn’t right.

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