THE LOST KNEE

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About requirements in mountain and climbing sports.

Our knee joint does a lot to ensure that jumps in climbing or trail running down the mountain are well guided and cushioned. In mountain sports, knee joints have an important and often underestimated function. They need a lot of training to develop their best effect for our favorite sport.

A view of the internal ligaments – cuciate ligaments, menisci and lateral ligaments.

The knee absorbs the compressive forces that act on our body and, along the way, balances the movement sequences with the help of a complex ligamentous apparatus. A trained knee is also an important tool in climbing sports when we think of “dropknee”, the “Egyptian”.

In one of the largest joints of our body, the most important tubular bones that enable our locomotion come together. The knee forms the link between the upper and lower leg and, strictly speaking, the knee joint consists of two individual joints.

In the larger joint, the femur and tibia work together. In interaction with the complex ligamentous apparatus and the musculature, they enable us to bend and extend as well as rotate inwards and outwards.

The smaller joint is also important for our uprightness and range of motion. It is where the kneecap and femur interact. However, the joints are relatively free and are supported by retaining, reinforcing, lateral and internal ligaments. In addition, strong muscles, two cartilage discs – the menisci and bursa – work together as “shock absorbers” that optimise our movements.

Particularly relevant for mountaineering and climbing is the functional capacity of the ligaments and the joint. This functional ability can be maintained through targeted training of the muscles. Ideally, with the right training in advance, our knee will not experience any damage from mountain and climbing sports.

Time and again, experts in sports medicine and physiotherapy emphasize that compensatory sports are the best preparation.

They lead to better physical fitness and also make you feel better about your body. Balancing sports are, for example, swimming or jogging to strengthen the ligaments. But we can also train our knees specifically with the help of balance boards or Thera-bands.

For very active mountain and climbing enthusiasts, individual training advice and physiotherapy is the best way to avoid injury. We should not underestimate training for a well-managed and muscularly supported knee.

In climbing, using the knee as a lever when not warmed up and without proper training can lead directly to micro-injuries in the ligamentous apparatus.

Bony knee injuries are extremely rare.

Even when training indoors, climbing mountains or trail running, our perception of pain can vary greatly. It is important to support each other and ensure that the movement is done correctly. It is helpful to let others observe and correct us. Even a little pain is already a sign that we are performing our movement incorrectly. This cannot be good.

In climbing, it also likes to egypt itself well up the wall.

The knee usually functions as a lever.

But: “This forced posture of our knee joint requires good and trained muscles so that the movement can be guided well. If the joint is actually levered over in an untrained manner, the ligaments and menisci are put under a lot of strain. If this is done more often, micro-injuries can cause ligament lesions or, in the case of sudden overload, cruciate ligament damage.” (Prof. Dr. Christian Lüring, Orthopaedic Clinic, Dortmund Hospital)

Trail running also demands stable muscles in the knee joint. If we disregard the Egyptian, the right knee training is even more important. Whether we climb, hike or run, we can state that rather few serious injuries to the knee are to be expected – unless we fall extremely unluckily.

An impact from a low height can cause ligament damage, haematoma and swelling to the knee. If we fall for longer, it is possible that a patellar fracture will occur, depending on the speed of the fall. Serious meniscus tears also only occur when a strong force is applied in combination with an inward or outward twisting movement.

We can say that if we train our knees ideally in advance, we have a low risk of injury. But what do we do if the worst comes to the worst?

When do we operate and how can we recognize a case for the clinic?

“Meniscus tears and cruciate ligament tears should definitely be operated on in athletes and biologically young people. Lateral ligament ruptures are usually treated conservatively with a splint. Bony injuries are usually operated on.

A leading point is certainly the severe pain. If someone really has tears in their eyes, it will possibly be something serious. If there is severe swelling, bruising, malpositioning of the leg as well as blockages and loss of function, an ambulance should be called or an accident surgery or orthopaedic practice should be visited.” (Prof. Dr. Christian Lüring, Orthopaedic Clinic, Dortmund Hospital)

For minor injuries, the well-known RICE rule helps:

R – Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation

The RICE rule should be applied as soon as possible after injuries. Minor injuries and even just bruises need time to heal.

After a break due to injury, the knee needs above all good muscular support again. Training should be started slowly again and increased carefully depending on how much pain you feel and how well you are able to function. After all, a well-trained knee is not so lost in mountaineering and climbing.

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