When it comes to proper knee health, knowing what your knee ligaments do can be hugely proactive in preventing knee injuries that can be catastrophically painful and crippling. After all, not only is the knee the largest joint in the body, but it also carries the most weight of any place in your body. And let’s face it – you need healthy knees in order to live a modern, active lifestyle. So what are the four ligaments, what do they do, and how can you keep them healthy?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or what some people refer to as the ACLm is probably the most important of the four knee ligaments. It, combined with its partner, forms a cross in the middle of your knee. This keeps the joint extremely stable and allows you to be active and move in different directions. It is also the most injured of all of the ligaments in your knee because it is extremely susceptible to unnatural twisting motions. For some people it can also be injured during normal movements that simply put a little extra stress on the joint, like stepping down from a curb.
The Posterior Cruciate Ligament
The Posterior Cruciate Ligament, which is also known as the abbreviated PCL, is the partner to the ACL when it comes to knee ligaments. It forms the other part of the cross within your knee joint that keeps your knee extremely stable and functional. It also helps secure the ACL ligament and makes it stronger because as it crosses the ACL, it wraps around it and helps reinforce it. That’s why it is rare to see a PCL injury, but not rare to hear of an ACL injury.
The Medial Collateral Ligament
The Medial Collateral Ligament, which is sometimes called the MCL, is a ligament that runs along the outside of your knee. When it comes to knee ligaments, the MCL and its partner are one of the strongest ligaments in your body. Not only does it act as sort of a hinge between the bones of your knee, but the MCL also helps stabilize the outside portion of your knee and protect it from injury.
The Lateral Collateral Ligament
Photos from morguefile.com and wikimedia.org
And finally, the Lateral Collateral Ligament, which is often called the LCL, is the partner to the MCL, but the LCL helps stabilize the inner part of your knee. Not only is this knee ligament fun to say five times fast, it is also a very critical ligament in that it prevents the knee from buckling in on itself, as well as acting as the partner hinge to the LCL. In fact, without this critical ligament, it is virtually impossible for the knee joint to act properly.
Now that you know the four knee ligaments that every knee contains, keeping them healthy is also of critical importance. Stretching before you work out, having regular exercise sessions, and maintaining a healthy weight and diet are critical to the health of your knee ligaments. In fact, without properly working knee ligaments, you won’t have a properly working knee, and that means you won’t be able to live a very active, modern lifestyle.