The Thigh Bone is Connected to the Knee Bone, the Knee Bone is Connected to…

May 4, 2019

It is well known that excess weight increases blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars and mobility, but do you know how much of your limited mobility is due to excessive force on your knees due to your weight?

Our knees, the largest joints in our body, are responsible for flexing and extending your leg plus a small bit of rotation. When our knees feel fine, they get little attention, yet when they hurt, they can take much of it. According to HealthEngine.com, approximately 19 percent suffer from knee pain in the United States, with the percentage increasing steadily with age.

Before we continue, let’s discuss some basic knee anatomy. Our knees are made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. Three bones form the knee joint: your femur (thigh bone), which is the largest bone in the body, tibia (shin bone) and patella (kneecap).

Cartilage is a firm, whitish, flexible connective tissue on the ends of bones allowing them to glide over each other within a joint. The femur and tibia are protected with articular cartilage that form your knee joint. The knee also has meniscus cartilage providing a shock absorber between the femur and tibia. A torn meniscus is a common knee injury resulting from a fast and forceful rotation, such as pivoting too far or too fast.

Ligaments connect bones to bones, with the knee having four. Two of the four are collateral ligaments: the medial collateral and lateral collateral. The medial collateral, known as the MCL, is on the inside of your knee and the lateral collateral, LCL, on the outside.

They work together to control sideways motion acting as a brace to protect your knee from improper movement. The cruciate ligaments, meaning “cross-shaped,” make up the other two to control the back and forth motion of your knee, with the anterior cruciate, ACL, in the front and the posterior cruciate, PCL, in the back. Finally, tendons connect your bones to muscles where the quadriceps tendon connects front muscles to your patella and the patellar tendon attaching to your tibia.

Knee pain can dramatically affect your lifestyle such as limiting walking, climbing, kneeling, squatting, bending, poor sleeping and getting in and out of your car. Common reasons for knee pain are bone fractures, dislocated patella, sprains, torn ligaments, and our weight. Injuries are often out of our control, but our weight is our responsibility.

When we are at our normal weight, the force on our knees is about 1.5 times our body weight; thus if you weigh 150 pounds, the force on your knees is approximately 225 pounds.

When overweight, every pound of excess weight adds about four more pounds of pressure on the knees. So when adding 10 pounds to your normal 150, you have added 40 more pounds to your knees; 50 pounds puts 200 pounds of extra pressure and 100 is 400 pounds. (Harvard Medical School)

Weight loss is a long, hard journey, but so worth every bit of fear, struggle, anxiety, patience, sweat and tears. But when you do, you may not be able to run a 10K, but those knees will get you walking, climbing, kneeling, squatting, bending, sleeping and your lifestyle. Yep, it’s worth it.

Sherrie Hebert is a certified personal trainer and Pilates mat and equipment instructor at her studio, Performance Pilates, and Gold’s Gym. You may contact her at 208-317-5685 or sherriehebert@gmail.com and visit her Facebook page, Performance Pilates.