The Weekend Warrior's Guide to Eight Common Injuries
How to fix it: If you've already got knee arthritis, avoid high-impact activities (it may be worth swapping running for something less stressful, like in-line skating). In the most debilitating cases, a knee replacement is the best option, but once you've got an artificial joint, you've got to treat it tenderlyno more full-court basketball.
The latest treatment: Gender-specific knee replacements the manufacturer claims will allow for differences in size and bone structure
What goes wrong: Cartilage in the hip breaks down, allowing the bones to rub together.
Who gets it: Again, a wide range of people. As with arthritis of the knee, malalignment, genetics, age, and old injuries all may play a part.
Ways to prevent it: Stay slim. Extra weight loads down the joints.
How to fix it: To prevent its damaging effects and stave off a full joint replacement for as long as possible, cut out the pounding workouts like running and aerobics, but do lower-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling to keep your weight down and get blood circulating.
The latest treatment: Hip resurfacing surgery doesn't require removal of the top of the femur the way a total replacement does. Instead, the surgeon shaves off just the top of the femur and covers it with a metal cap. Sparing the bone means a full replacement can always be done later, if necessary.
Knee cartilage tear
What goes wrong: The cartilage in your knee rips.
Who gets it: Anyone who squats. In sports, that would be baseball catchers, weight lifters, and football players.
Ways to prevent it: Protect your knees by building up your quads with cycling.
How to fix it: Surgeons often remove the damaged part of the meniscus, the cartilage that cushions your knee.
The latest treatment: A collagen scaffold, which is attached to the remaining meniscus and allows new tissue to grow, is available in Europe. It's still being studied for use in the United States.
What goes wrong: The anterior cruciate ligament, which runs diagonally through the knee joint, tears.
Who gets it: All kinds of athletes, but women are especially vulnerablepossibly because of hip structure, differences in strength, and conditioning.
Ways to prevent it: Try tai chi to improve your balance.
How to fix it: Surgery is common if the ACL is badly torn and the knee is unstable.
The latest treatment: Rather than replacing the torn ACL with one bundle of tendon fibers, some doctors are trying a technique that uses two bundles, to more closely mimic the anatomy of the original ligament. But the jury's out on how it stacks up against prevailing treatment.
What goes wrong: Tendons lose their elasticity with age, making them vulnerable to irritation and inflammation.
Who gets it: Runners, especially older ones. Ramping up the volume or intensityespecially by running hillscan lead to Achilles problems.
Ways to prevent it: Stretch your calvesask a trainer to teach you how to stretch the soleus, the smaller muscle that runs down the back of your calf.
How to fix it: Rest. Use ice and possibly anti-inflammatories.
The latest treatment: Research suggests that "eccentric training" using heavy loadsin this case, certain calf exercises that lengthen the muscles as they are trying to contractcan improve the pain and disability of Achilles tendinitis.
What goes wrong: Back muscles get strained, disks degenerate, and nerves are pinched.
Who gets it: Who doesn't? A full 80 percent of the population will experience significant back pain at some point.
Ways to prevent it: Your mother was right: Stand up straight! Having correct posture can fend off strain and pain.
How to fix it: Treatment runs the gamut from light exercise and a heating pad to major surgery, depending on the severity and type of pain.
The latest treatment: Recent studies suggest surgery helps people with a condition called degenerative spondylolisthesis with spinal stenosis (when a vertebra slips out of alignment, eventually causing the spinal column to narrow and pinching nerves). People with sciatica, which is caused by a disk pressing against a nerve, are likely to get better over time, with or without surgery.