Knee Injury Prevention
So why am I getting hurt?
Welcome back, nerds. This blog will focus on the agility field/court athletes with lateral movements that include (but are not limited to) soccer, football, rugby, field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. These sports are specifically called out because they often have non-contact knee ligament tears that can occur due to either muscular imbalance, muscle fatigue leading to joint instability, or improper/lack of prehab. Muscle imbalance just means to strengthen all the muscles around a joint. SO don’t just focus on your quads – do hamstring curls and heel raises too so you’re well balanced around your knee. Fatigue can easily be solved with appropriate endurance training, which usually occurs anyways. Thing that people forget to do though is find time to rest and let those muscles recuperate and heal. Rest doesn’t mean sitting on your couch doing nothing, it means lighter workouts or training a different facet of your athletic ability (for example football players – it wouldn’t hurt you to work on mobility or flexibility once in awhile *cough cough*) (don’t laugh soccer players – it wouldn’t hurt your legs to get under a bar and bench press once in awhile – I know because I use to play soccer). All teasing aside, the real problem causing knee injuries is usually the lack of prehab. Athletes can lift a ton of weight to be strong, or run 10 miles a day to increase their stamina, but what most forget to do is work on the stabilization muscles, WHILE under stressful game-like situations. When you run full sprint stop on a dime to juke to the left, your right knee and ankle take on over EIGHT TIMES YOUR WEIGHT in force. For an average sized human athlete, that’s over 1500 pounds of force going through your leg in a split second. Add a twisting motion to that split second and you have yourself a torn ACL if you haven’t been training it correctly. With that in mind, pay attention to signs and symptoms your body is giving you which I will help you with, and then I’ll give you some good prehab exercises to help you train like you game.
What problems go with which signs?
Focusing on the red, yellow, and green light principle, from my very first blog, we’ll take a look at signs to pay attention to and what should be done if they pop up. As always, if it is an emergency situation immediately call 9-1-1 and get the injured to an emergency room as soon as possible.
⃝ RED signs → pain, instability, numbness/tingling, cold or discolored toes or feet
⃝ YELLOW signs → painful clicking/popping/catching feeling, quad weakness (knee gives out), loss of range of motion
⃝ GREEN signs → soreness, tightness, achy muscle
How can I prevent one of these signs?
Once your knee is healthy, or in the green, you can perform a few exercises to prevent common injuries.
- (by yourself) box jumps with 90’ spin landing on one foot – use an appropriate height box (24” is a good place to begin) start facing the box, then use both legs to jump up and spin 90 degrees to the left landing on one foot. Do the same but spin to the right and land on the same foot. Do that 12 times total, then switch legs. Once this starts getting easy, you can one leg hop and twist, landing on that same leg.
- (with a coach) quick feet turn on whistle – start in athletic stance and pretend your in the middle of a clock (focus only on 6 o’clock behind you, 9 o’clock left of you, 3 o’clock right of you… and they don’t move, only you move). On the single start whistle chop the feet and move the arms, the coach can single whistle again and that means for you to quickly rotate to whichever direction she/he is pointing (3, 6, 9, or 12) and snapping right back to facing 12 o’clock. To progress this, the coach can pick one leg for you to land on when rotating, but you always end up facing 12 o’clock with your feet chopping. Trick is, stay in a low athletic stance throughout the whole drill. Only run this drill for about 4-6 min, working both legs as equal as possible.
- (with a partner) Competitive Depth jump, side juke around cone, sprint to middle and grab hanging flag – the grid is as follows: two boxes of the same height next to each other, athletes facing the same direction, place only 1 cone about 1 yard up and 5 yards to the left of the left box and 1 equally distant but to the right of the right box, then walk walk about 10 yards directly out from the middle of the two boxes, and hang two flags or stick two 4 ft thin PVC pipes into the ground only a yard apart so athletes don’t collide into each other (the grid looks like a triangle). Both athletes start in the middle of their boxes, on the count of three, they depth drop off the box, landing on the leg closest to their competitor, immediately run around their respective side’s cone and back towards their respective side’s flag. First to grab their flag wins. Make sure to switch sides and take appropriate breaks.
Next week I’ll cover low back pain in the common athlete and how to, literally, walk you through it.
Bone’s only make up about 14% of our weight!