Although you are unlikely to be falling over and gouging huge chunks out of your knees as an adult, you could be harming your knees in a way that can’t be seen.

The way that you stand, walk and move all have an impact on your knees – the joints most regularly affected by impact injuries. A lot of adults make a conscious effort to exercise as much as they can, in order to keep in shape, and although regular exercise is encouraged, if you’re an athlete who does a lot more exercise than the recommended minimum you’re joints are likely to feel the strain. Impact injuries are most likely to occur when doing high impact exercises – when both feet are in the air at the same time – such as running and kickboxing. However, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that you avoid impact injuries regardless of the kind of exercise you choose to do:

Warm up and cool down

However much or little exercise you’re doing, you should always warm up beforehand and make a conscious effort to cool your body and muscles down afterwards. Your warm up helps to increase your body temperature gradually which makes your muscles, cartilage and ligaments much more flexible. It also helps to activate the fluid in your joints which significantly reduces friction and therefore wear and tear. Cooling down is just as important and will help to bring your body back to its pre-workout state. Gradually reduce the intensity of your exercise so that your heart rate and breathing return to normal. Walking at a steady pace is a great way to warm up and cool your body down. You’ll be able to tell when your body is sufficiently cool when you’ve stopped sweating and your skin is cool to the touch.

Varied exercise regime

If you’re a serious athlete then you should know the importance of a varied exercise plan. Doing too much of the same kind of exercise can not only cause impact injuries but also repetitive strain injuries too. If you feel pain in any part of your body after exercising or other daily tasks, you should take note and adapt your exercise plan accordingly as those particular muscles are probably being over used. Repetitive strain injuries are another painful injury that can be prevented by warming up and cooling down properly.

Exercise modifications

As well as your usual fitness regime you might like to take classes for a variation of exercise. If you have any injuries or are looking to prevent a flare up of a past issue then arrive a few minutes early and talk to the instructor as they should be able to offer alternative exercises that won’t affect your problem area, preventing a potential injury.

Know your form

Intense cardiovascular training is an essential element of success in bodybuilding. Running is one of the most effective and therefore popular types of high impact sports chosen by athletes, which is why it’s essential to know the correct form before starting and potentially injuring yourself. If you don’t check your form before running then it’s not only your knees that you’ll have to worry about because you could be setting yourself up for some particularly nasty ankle and hip injuries too.

Shoes

Trainers are the obvious choice when it comes to fitness but not all of them fit in the same way and it’s important to make sure the shoes you exercise in are the right fit for you. Every time you run or perform any other kind of cardio workout you transfer three times your body weight to your feet, which over time can cause serious damage. The right shoes are the only things that will prevent you from developing an injury so it’s worth going to a specialist sports shop, where assistants are often trained to find the right shoe for the structure and shape of your feet. Low impact shoes are an option too. Typically they’re lightweight, have a thick sole and a lot of cushioning that will reduce the impact between your feet – and therefore the impact on your knees - and the ground below.

Impact injury