JGH News, Summer 2009
With over 3,000 orthopedic surgeries behind him, Dr. John Antoniou might be expected to advocate coddling one’s knees. Not so! As an Attending Staff in the JGH Department of Orthopedics, Dr. Antoniou does urge caution, but he also encourages patients to forge ahead in their daily lives and not avoid their regular activities out of fear of injury. He says he is also quick to remind them that “their knees do not trump their health”, calling instead for a balanced and energetic lifestyle to help promote overall well-being.
Dr. Antoniou, who is also Associate Professor of Surgery at McGill University, notes that bad habits and repetitive strains can sometimes be even more harmful than potentially hazardous activities. “With obesity affecting more and more people, knee problems are on the rise,” he says. Among the other culprits are high-impact sports, primarily jogging, which “definitely increases the risk factor for knee injuries.”
So how do you balance health-enhancing exercise against knee-bashing risk? Dr. Antoniou recommends alternative sports such as swimming and cycling, which provide a high intensity workout but don’t place as great a strain on the knees. He also dismisses the practice of popping a few pain relievers before hitting the gym. “Taking any kind of pain killer before working out will simply mask the problem, not prevent it,” he says. What works best is a healthy dose of common sense.