If you have injured your knee in a basketball game or have pain related to your weekend runs, you likely wish the problem had never happened. If you’d like to prevent sports-related knee injuries, consulting orthopedic experts is the best option.
Here are some practical tips on keeping your knees healthy, mobile, and pain-free.
The Details on Sports-related Knee Injuries
Knee injuries are common in sports and in pursuit of active lifestyles. Nearly half of athletic injuries are knee problems–about two million annually in the US.
Many injuries involve the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, particularly in girls. Others involve the c-shaped meniscus cartilage, where the upper and lower leg bones come together in the knee joint. Patellar (knee cap) fractures frequently occur with falls and collisions between two sports participants.
Causes of Sports-related Knee Injuries
Besides traumatic impact, how do sports-related knee injuries happen? Frankly, they often happen because of the lack of preparation. In other words, amateur and professional athletes do not keep their knees strong and limber by being in overall good physical condition. Perhaps they are weekend warriors and only train or play hard on their days off or even more sporadically than that. Their posture may be poor, slouching, having weak core muscles, and exerting too much pressure on the knee joints.
Additionally, many injury-prone people do not:
- Keep a healthy body weight
- Eat poorly
- Smoke (depriving their joints of oxygen and nutrients)
- Wear proper equipment and shoes
- Train or play using proper techniques and body mechanics
Tips to Avoid Knee Injuries
Here are just a few general tips. Your orthopedic specialist, athletic trainer, coach, or physical therapist can fine-tune these strategies according to your sport, gender, age, and level of participation. The best tip is this adage: a pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Tip #1 Warmup and Cool-Down
Proper training and sports participation should involve adequate stretching ahead of play. A good warmup and cool-down keeps muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints limber and avoids lactic acid build-up and those staggeringly painful leg cramps.
Tip #2 Build-up to More Strenuous Techniques
Do not change the intensity of your workout suddenly. In other words, gradually build up to more strenuous routines and complex movements. Many knee injuries come from rapid reversals, hard landings, and stopping too quickly on knees, which are not conditioned to take the impact and change in direction.
Tip #3 Weight Train
Whether you are a walker, a ball player, a cyclist, a martial artist, or something else, all your joints–not just your knees–can stay injury-free if the muscles supporting them are strong and flexible. So, weight train, starting with smaller weights at first and gradually increasing your repetitions with heavier weights as your therapist or coach recommends. Weight training helps avoid fractures, too.
Tip #4 Wear Knee Pads
Hockey, cycling, rollerblading, and other sports involve hard falls. You can lessen the impact by wearing the right equipment–knee pads, along with properly fitting shoes and other gear as appropriate to your sport. Make sure the equipment fits well and is in good condition, too.
Tip #5 Reduce Impact
Can you keep in good physical condition without pounding on your knee joints? You can if you walk, swim, or cycle. These are great low-impact activities that improve cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance.
Sports-related Knee Injuries Treatment in O’Fallon, St. Peters, and Wentzville, Missouri
At Advanced Bone & Joint, our board-certified sports medicine doctors— Dr. Brandon Larkin and Dr. Matthew Melander— are dedicated to providing comprehensive care for a broad range of sports injuries. On top of that, we help weekend warriors, elite athletes, and everyone else involved in sports take their performance to the next level by teaching them enhanced injury and reinjury prevention techniques.