Whether you play sports recreationally or competitively, knee injuries are a common issue. With the knee being a complex joint, it’s no wonder that it’s vulnerable to a range of injuries including strains, sprains and even fractures. The good news is that in most cases, knee injuries are often preventable.
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a sports injury in Twickenham or you’re looking for tips on preventing a knee injury from occurring, read on. We’ll share some helpful information on protecting your knees from injury so that you can run, jump, skip and more without pain and discomfort.
Please bear in mind that although the information and tips in this article are helpful for people with knee injuries, for specific advice and guidance on exercises, please contact a physiotherapist for a professional assessment.
Understanding the knee
Before we discuss injuries, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the knee. It is the largest joint in the body and is made up of 4 main structures: bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. It’s one of the most easily injured parts of the body, largely due to its complexity and the fact that it’s responsible for bearing weight and facilitating movement.
Common knee injuries
Very often while playing sports, specific movements can result in knee injuries. Here are some of the injuries that we see in clinic:
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries
ACL injuries can occur during athletic activities, particularly sports that involve cutting and pivoting. This is because rapidly changing direction or landing from a jump incorrectly can tear the ACL.
For example, athletes who play sports such as football or tennis are more likely to experience an ACL injury. An ACL injury often occurs alongside damage to other structures of the knee including the articular cartilage, meniscus or other ligaments.
Tears in the meniscus are common during sports with a lot of quick changes in direction, pivoting, twisting and tackling. That said, meniscus tears can also occur from something as simple as an awkward twist when rising from a chair depending on your age.
A knee fracture is usually caused by high-energy trauma. Many people experience fractures after falling from significant heights or colliding against something. The kneecap (patella) is the most commonly broken bone of the knee.
A very common problem where the tendon becomes overloaded without sufficient capacity available to withstand this overload. Often this injury responds well to shockwave therapy.
How to protect your knees
As we mentioned earlier, knee injuries are often preventable. Here are some prevention techniques you can incorporate into your training or game-day rituals to protect your knees:
Wear proper footwear
Wearing proper shoes is an essential part of safely playing sports, not just for your foot, but for your whole leg. Be sure to invest in the right footwear according to your activity and replace your shoes when they’re worn down.
Warm up and cool down
Lunges, skips with a front kick, jogging backwards and high skips are great ways to get the muscles ready before physical activity. That said, it’s equally important to allow your body time to cool down when you’re finished.
Stretch it out
Stretching helps improve your range of motion and maintain healthy joints and soft tissues.
It is important to maintain the strength of the entire chain from your trunk to your foot and ankle. Particularly, focus on strengthening your hip and knee muscles to prevent unnecessary knee twisting.
Don’t over do it
Last but not least, don’t overtrain. It’s important to listen to your body. Be sure to pick appropriate exercises and repetitions according to your specific needs. For example, a non-weight bearing activity may be a better choice for those who are susceptible to lower leg problems.
If you’re dealing with a knee injury and could use some help finding relief, please call us on 020 8898 1231 to arrange to see one of our experienced physiotherapists. They will be happy to conduct an initial assessment, provide advice tailored to your specific injury and do everything possible to help you along on your journey to recovery.