Ouch, my knee hurts

Knee Injury RunningWhether you are a weekend warrior or a highly competitive athlete, you have likely experienced or come in contact with someone who has suffered from some sort of knee pain. Knee injuries, especially to those who are physically active can be extremely annoying and can hinder your activities greatly.  Particularly at this time of year when so many people are in training for the marathon season and are building up their running hours.

The knee itself is a large and complex joint that can be easily injured due to the number of forces that can act upon it.  It consists of four bones: the femur, tibia, fibula and patella.  Also in place are cartilage, meniscus, and several bursa, ligaments and muscles/tendons. All of these structures must work together to produce movement and provide stability to prevent injury

Knee pain can arise from a sudden injury or can progressively build up over a very long time.  Either way, the key to successful treatment lies in accurate diagnosis and treatment based on the best available evidence.

Knee Injury

Anterior knee pain is the most common knee disorder, affecting 1 in every 4 active individuals.  Women are 6-8 times more predisposed to knee injuries than male counterparts in sports that require jumping, landing, cutting, and pivoting maneuvers.  Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are one of most disabling injuries of the knee joint resulting in long term neuromuscular deficiencies. Of those who have sustained an ACL injury, approximately 70% will not return to full competitive sporting activities.  Non-contact ACL injuries account for about 80% of all ACL injuries, with 70% occurring during ground contact after landing from jump and the other 30% occurring while decelerating to change direction.

If your knee is swollen you should arrange for an appointment to be assessed.  It is important to establish what is wrong with the knee in order to treat it correctly in the early stages.

If your knee has started hurting for no reason it may be that local structures around you knee are weak or stiff causing an imbalance and pain. It is very common for remote areas to cause knee pain, for example dropped arches in your foot or weakness in your buttock muscles can create biomechanical problems that can lead to pain.

Knee Injury Prevention

By now you must be thinking “I’m doomed!”  It seems like it right? But have no fear, research shows that moderate physical activity and specific exercise regimens play a significant role in prevention of knee injuries.  Preventative exercise programs may lead to fewer injuries and the loss of your training hours.

Preventative Exercises

Here are some examples of basic exercises that should be incorporated in a knee injury prevention program.  It is important to always precede exercises with some form of warm-up and flexibility program.  All exercises should be performed with intensity and perfect body mechanics (i.e. head high, back straight, tight abdominals, and fast feet) and always allow for adequate recovery time.

  • Flexibility
    • Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, ITB, Gastroc-Soleus, Hip Flexors
  • Strength (Quadriceps, Gluteals, Hamstrings, Core)
    • Stiff-legged Deadlifts, Lunges, Squats, Monster Walks
    • Russian Twist, Abdominal Rollout, Woodchoppers
  • Plyometrics
    • Backward/forward/lateral jumps, box jumps, bounding, depth jumps, lateral box push offs
  • Balance/Proprioception
    • Cariocas, Wobble board balancing
  • Agility
    • Rope skipping, Agility T Drill, Sprint Lateral Shuffle, Illionois Course

To maximize the benefits of an injury prevention program, incorporate yoga and pilates into your exercise regime. When practiced regularly, the benefits are numerous.  Physically, a combination of yoga and pilates can improve muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, postural alignment, body awareness, circulation, digestion, hormonal balance, respiration, immune function, strengthen bones, normalize blood pressure and reduce or normalize body weight. Mentally, it can improve your alertness, concentration, sleep patterns; reduce stress and anxiety and improve your ability to relax.

Above all, don’t suffer in silence.  A knee injury can be easily treated and you can be back to full fitness and training again with the right information and the right pathway to recovery programme for you.

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