The knee is a complex joint, with many moving parts. This and the fact that it is an active weight-bearing joint make it one of the most commonly injured joints. Knee injuries are on the rise in children and teens and in particular, the number of young people needing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions. As parents we encourage our children to participate in sports, but any activity involving jumping too much, playing or exercising aggressively for a long time, can lead to knee pain, strains and injuries.
There are a number of ways we can help prevent knee injuries from occurring or reoccurring:
• Warm up and cool down – always have a good warm up that involves change of direction, jumping and agility activities and stretching of leg muscles, before and after exercise.
• Avoid sudden jarring movements
Use the balls of your feet when changing direction, rather than twisting the knees.
When pivoting, crouch and bend at the knees and hips.
When jumping, bend the knees while landing.
• Keep hydrated – drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
• Avoid overtraining and allow adequate recovery time between workouts and training sessions.
• Encourage regular exercise to strengthen the knee muscles and bones and to improve flexibility and so reduce the chances of knee injury or damage. Avoid activities that cause severe pain and discomfort.
• Be sure to wear supportive shoes that are in good condition, fit well and appropriate for the sport or exercise. This will help you to maintain proper leg alignment and balance and so help prevent knee injuries.
• Always wear appropriate protective equipment during practices and when competing.
Wear specific knee protection, especially for previously injured knees.
• Consider surfaces used for training.
Running and jumping on asphalt and running down steep terrains can put extra pressure on the knees.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight on puts more pressure and stress on knees when walking, running and exercising.
• Keep in condition – train throughout the year to stay fit and reduce the likelihood of injury.