A New Normal for Athletes

Life is returning to a new “normal.” The world is opening back up, and along with it are sports. Athletes are starting to get back to work. Now is not the time you want to have an injury. It is however, the perfect time to change bad habits and focus on proper strengthening and stretching to help prevent injury.

Knee Injuries by the Numbers

Knee pain and injury plague many athletes every year. As many as 8.5% of non elite athletes will suffer from patella tendinopathy or “jumpers knee.”  Patella tendinopathy can cause pain, interfere with performance and can be career ending in up to 53% of athletes. Another injury that impacts athletes are ACL tears. There are 100,000 to 200,000 ACL ruptures/tears every year. Research shows that girls are anywhere from 2-10 times more likely to tear their ACL than boys.

Injury Prevention Tips

Here are a few simple things you can do to help prevent injury.

1) Start back slowly and listen to your body.

2) Allow time for a proper warm up.

3) Make sure you wear proper shoes. Wear shoes that have a good arch support and control the position of your foot preventing your arch from collapsing.

4) Stretch your calf muscles. Having good flexibility in your calf muscles allows for adequate motion in your ankles to help absorb the impact of landing.

5) Strengthen your core and your gluteal muscles, especially the gluteus medius muscle. Poor strength of the gluteus medius leads to decreased hip and knee control.

6) Maintain flexibility in your hip flexors and quadriceps.

7) Don’t forget about the hamstrings. Your hamstrings, along with the ACL, help prevent your tibia (lower leg) from sliding forward. Focus on making sure you have a good strength in your hamstrings not just your quadriceps muscles.

8) Avoid knee extension machines. Once a staple in every gym this exercise puts a tremendous amount of stress on the knee.

9) Use a hip strategy when landing. Land with your hips back, keeping your knees behind your toes. This helps to protect your knees but also allows you to prepare for the next jump and for more power production.

10) Focus on landing softly and quietly. Land on the balls of your feet allowing your hips, knees, and ankles to bend. Make sure your knees don’t drop in toward each other as you land. Allow your muscles to absorb the impact not your joints.

If, despite these tips, you do experience knee pain or injury we at Foothills Orthopedic and Sport Therapy are available to help.