Knee Injury Prevention – 4 Strategies for Maintaining Healthy Knees
Knee injuries account for between 15% and 50% percent of all injuries in various sports (Thacker et al, 2003). With such a high incidence rate across all sports, it is important to take steps in order prevent these injuries so that we can continue to participate safely and enjoy our sports. The following are a few methods that can be used to help us prevent knee injuries.
1. Strength and Resistance Training
As a joint that is quite reliant on its passive structures for stability, it is crucial that the muscles surrounding the knee are as strong as possible to lower the risk of these passive structures being injured. The quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes all act as major stabilisers for the knee joint, and by ensuring these muscles are strong, we can lower the risk of injury to the ligamentous and cartilaginous structures of the knee. Strength and resistance training is also vital in promoting good tendon health and helping to avoid injuries such as Runners Knee or Jumpers Knee. Exercises such as Squats, Lunges, or Step Ups all help to provide a strong baseline of strength in these muscles.
2. Multidirectional Loading
In most field sports, it is important to be able to stop, twist, turn, accelerate and decelerate effectively, often with little or no warning. This can cause significant stress on the knees if they are not used to performing under those conditions. For this reason, is important that the motions and exercises that aid these movements are present in our training. It is important that we practice exercises speed build ups, multidirectional runs (T-Runs, Y-runs, etc.), and agility drills in our training in order to expose our knees to the various demands that may expected of them when it comes to competing to ensure comfortability and safety when performing.
3. Effective Warm Up
The importance of an effective warm-up cannot be understated when discussing injury prevention. A good warm up should ideally consist of a few gentle exercises focussing on the main muscles that will be used during exercise, as well as some exercises focussing on balance, running, and plyometrics. The FIFA 11+ Warm-Up protocol, which includes all of these aspects, has been shown to reduce injury incidence by up to 57% when diligently adhered before football training and matches (Daneshjoo et al, 2013). Although each sport has its own individual demands, protocols such as the FIFA 11+, or the HarmoKnee Injury Prevention Warm-up can act as a good template on which to build your warm-ups.
4. Physical Fitness
As muscles tire and fatigue, they become less capable of performing to the best of their abilities. This makes it very important that sportspeople maintain a high level of physical fitness, as the fitter we are, the longer it takes our muscles to fatigue and the more we can get out of them. This applies to both our muscular endurance to make the most of the energy and oxygen they are provided, and to our cardiovascular endurance to ensure that there is adequate delivery of that energy and oxygen that is required. Endurance training requires very little equipment, and is accessible to most people, and is one of the easiest ways decrease our chance of knee injury.
PMC Physio Dunboyne recommendation
In case of knee injury, the primary goals in the early stages of injury are to protect the area from further injury, reduce the swelling that may have arisen, and prevent the loss of strength and mobility surrounding the joint. If you are experiencing any niggling knee pain, please make an appointment to speak with one of our expert physiotherapists and get it checked out today.
PMC Physiotherapy Clinic, Unit 36, Dunboyne Business Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath
01 8253 997