tyler4588 wrote:Another question, if I may:
Does strengthening those muscles around my knee help to mitigate the problems created by high-impact exercises like running? If not, what else can I do to prevent injuries from impact?
You may. Yes. Strengthening the muscles around your knee helps to mitigate high-impact problems (mostly arthritis and other related "over-use" types of pain). Rarely do people blow their knee out running in a straight line. Most big knee problems (acl, mcl, meniscus) are one time "blow out" events, while pain associated with over use or lack of supporting strength in the surrounding muscles comes over time.
I had the opportunity to see the Brazilian national soccer team's knee doctor when I blew my knee out. He told me the story of Roberto Carlos (aka "the mule"). He said most elite soccer players don't work their legs (they work on general conditioning, but view excess muscle as a speed inhibitor). They usually have a 3-5 year career and sort of phase out due to injuries (most often knee, but some ankle). Roberto Carlos is still playing at the highest level and has had a 15+ year career (3 world cups for Brazil, etc). I asked him why has he been so successful and avoided knee/ankle problems? He said because they call him "the mule." His legs are so big, they resemble a mule's back legs.
He has been working his legs since he was young and the doctor said that was the single biggest reason he has had such a long and illustrious career. Ever since I heard that story I have been a mad man working my legs (and have not had any knee problems in the 10 years since my surgery - knock on wood!).
Moral of the story. strong knees = strong quads, hams, and calfs. Get to it!