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    6 Ways to Ruin Your Knees

    Expert tips on how to avoid damaging your knees.

    5. Overdoing it. continued...

    A sudden increase in intensity or duration of exercise can cause overuse injuries from repetitive strain. Tendonitis and kneecap pain are common symptoms in the knee.

    Pushing too hard is also related to overtraining syndrome, a physiological and psychological condition among athletes in which they exceed their ability to perform and recover from physical exertion, often leading to injury or lowered performance.

    Be sure to include stretching exercises before and after working out. And follow hard training days with easy ones so your body can recover.

    6. Overlooking other muscles around the knees.

    Weak muscles and lack of flexibility are primary causes of knee injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic. When the muscles around the kneecap, hip, and pelvis are strong, it keeps the knee stable and balanced, providing support by absorbing some of the stress exerted on the joint.

    DiNubile stresses the importance of building the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, as well as proper strengthening of the body's core muscles, including the obliques, lower back muscles, and upper thigh.

    His favorite tool to help accomplish this strengthening is a Swiss medicine ball. Other exercises to try are knee extensions, hamstring curls, leg presses, and flexibility exercises.

    Piplica recalls realizing just how weak some of her leg muscles were.

    "Roller girls are striding out so much with their outer leg muscles, but we aren't necessarily working our inner knees," she says. "I remember when I would run for exercise, my calves and shins would hurt so bad. That surprised me, because I thought if anything was strong, it was my legs.”

    Piplica says she wishes she had been better educated about crosstraining activities for roller skaters, and what muscle groups they need to focus on to keep their knees healthy.

    As she awaits surgery to repair her torn ACL, Piplica tells WebMD that her perspective on long-term care for her knees has definitely changed.

    "Half of me is frustrated about not being able to skate sooner, but the other half knows how important it is to get better so I don't do this again. I'm 27 years old with a serious knee injury preventing me from moving around. So I need to look beyond just skating, skating, skating. I don't want to have knee problems when I'm 40 or 50 because I'm not giving my body the kind of attention it needs right now."

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    Reviewed on September 22, 2011

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