In this month’s Runner’s World there was an article detailing different types of knee pain, and the causes and risks associated with said pain. One of the knee injuries profiled is one I’m quite familiar with: Iliotibial-Band(ITB) Syndrome, which is inflammation in the band of fibers that run along the outside of the knee.
Now, according to this article, the people most at risk are “Women with a BMI of 21 (weighing 135 at 5’7”, for example)” because the “extra body weight puts a heavier load on the hips and more pressure on the IT band.”
As a woman with a BMI of 21 – which is to say, I’m 5’7” and weigh 135 – I say: Bite me.
Forgetting for a second that, according to the National Institute of Health, a BMI of 21 is considered “Normal,” and therefore the premise of my “extra weight” causing knee pain is inherently flawed, I can think of about a thousand different reasons why this article and its conclusion is one of the more annoying things I’ve encountered this week. In the interest of time, I’ll give you two:
1. BMI is a ridiculous way to assess “healthy” weight
BMI doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat…and muscle weighs more. I weigh about 10 pounds more than I did when I was in college, but I’m about 100x healthy than I was then. Last year, I posted a picture of me running my very first running race in 2005, and my brother commented: “Whoa, you look so much skinner – and not in a good way.” And he was right. I was a TON skinnier, but had no muscles, no strength, and, ironically, my knee problems were a LOT worse.
2. At the risk of sounding hyper sensitive: 135 pounds at 5’7” isn’t fat.
It just isn’t, and I’d appreciate it if pop culture would stop telling me that any female weighing more than 110 weighs too much. I’ve had more than one friend – and , if I’m going to be honest, I’ve spent more than a few days myself – stressing about “weighing too much”, when the reality of what is “too much” is based on such flawed perception. If we ever wonder why, as a culture, we’re so fat and/or neurotic, maybe it’s because we focus on entirely the wrong things. Numbers on a scale instead of the types of food we eat, size of our waist instead of the distance we can run or weight we can lift.
I think if I’d read this article in Cosmo or US Weekly, I wouldn’t care so much; those magazines aren’t intended to focus on fitness and health. But Runner’s World is, and I’m totally annoyed that they missed the mark so completely.