Knee injuries, mostly tears, sprains, and strains, are among the most common types of fitness and sports injuries. Certain risk factors, such as obesity, prior injury, and gender (women are more prone to certain types of injury than men), raise the risk even higher.

It’s believed only about half of people with a knee injury go to the doctor. Partially, that’s because these wounds typically are not very serious. But the low number of doctor visits also indicates that many individuals do not take these injuries seriously. That could be a major mistake since re-injured knees require much more care and attention.

Prevention is definitely the best way to avoid these injuries, and if you want to know what do do, keep reading.

1) ACL Tears

Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears are most commonly associated with sports. Quick directional changes and improper landing often place too much strain on this knee stability ligament, causing it to tear. Non-contact ACL wounds are fairly common as well, especially among women. Researchers theorize that a woman’s wider pelvis forces her thigh bones into a sharp downward angle that places pressure on the ACL. Others note that this ligament, and the surrounding intercondylar notch, are smaller in women. In both contact and non-contact situations, a lightweight protective knee brace is a key way to prevent these injuries. Such a brace significantly improves stability and protects the ACL. If you are a fitness runner, try to stay in familiar, well-lit places to avoid sudden turns and bad steps.

2) Meniscus Tear

Once again, these injuries often occur during contact sports. Everyday activities, such as stretching or squatting, could cause a meniscus tear as well. These tears are especially common in children under 15, due to their increased sports participation, and adults over 40, due to a degenerative condition. Most people incorrectly refer to these injuries as “torn cartilage.”

The aforementioned brace is a good way to prevent meniscus tears, and at-risk people should seriously consider wearing one. There are also a number of exercises and stretches that strengthen the knee and decrease the risk of injury.

3) Patellar Tendonitis

This tendon, which is on the front of the thigh, stretches and bends as the patella (kneecap) bends. So, runners place a lot of stress on this tendon. Jumpers stress it as well, which is why this injury is sometimes called “jumper’s knee.” Overall, knee tendonitis may be the most common type of a very common injury.

Tendonitis is most prevalent among people who begin a fitness routine or substantially increase their activity level. Therefore, these people are the ones who should wear a brace and do some additional exercises. After a few weeks, once the tendon is stronger, these precautions aren’t as necessary.

4) IT Band Syndrome

Marathon trainers beware. Iliotibial band syndrome is most common among distance runners, especially those who suddenly increase their mileage. In these situations, the iliotibial band, which is on the outside of the knee, rubs against the joint. This injury feels as painful as it sounds.

People who do not gradually build up their mileage almost always experience IT band syndrome. So, it’s very important to adhere to a gradual training schedule which mixes in lots of breaks.

Be smart about your new or more challenging fitness regimen to avoid some common knee injuries.