Knee injuries topped the list of the five most common conditions incurred by Illinois high school athletes during the 2011-2012 school year, according to a survey of the state’s athletic trainers. The six-month study was conducted by the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association (IATA) in collaboration with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR). State licensed athletic trainers from across the state identified the most common conditions and injuries high school athletes sought treatment for during the 2011-2012 school year. The most common knee injuries are patellar tendinitis (also called ‘jumper’s knee’) and ACL/MCL tears. To learn more about the study, visit www.rushortho.com.
Tips to prevent knee injuries include:
- Wear appropriate protective gear during sports and other recreational activities
- Wear supportive shoes with a proper fit for correct leg alignment and balance
- Wear protective equipment such as knee pads or shin guards during contact sports
- Always warm up and cool down before and after workouts
- Weight training and stretching improves flexibility and strength for better knee support
- Don’t suddenly change the intensity of your exercise, but build up gradually to avoid knee pain
- If the sport involves a lot of jumping, make sure to bend your knees when you land
- Use knee joints to crouch in order to move laterally or pivot to avoid ligament injury
- Always tell a coach, parent, athletic trainer or doctor if you have knee pain
Exercises to prevent knee injuries:
Face and hold onto the back of a chair. Place your hands firmly on the back of a chair for balance. Bend your knee back so your leg forms a 90-degree angle and raise your foot toward the ceiling. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and then lower your leg. Do this 10 times and then switch legs and repeat.
Lay on your back, keeping one knee bent with that foot flat on the floor and the other knee straight. Lift the straightened leg a few inches off the floor while flexing your quadriceps muscles. Be sure not to arch your back in this position. Hold for 5 seconds and then lower it slowly to the ground. Do this 10 times and then switch legs and repeat.
Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your back against a wall. Walk your feet out so they are about two feet away from the wall. Lower yourself slowly until you are in a sitting position. Be sure to keep your knees in line with your toes. Hold for 10 seconds and then slowly come back up. Do this 10 times and then switch legs and repeat.
Hold the backs of two chairs on either side of you while lifting one leg slightly in front. Position yourself in between 2 chairs and hold the backs of the chairs for support. Lift one leg slightly in front of you and bend the opposite knee so that you are lowering yourself a few inches. Be sure to distribute your weight onto the heel of your supporting leg. Hold for 5 seconds and then slowly straighten your leg and bring down the raised leg. Do this 10 times and then switch legs and repeat.
With one foot, step onto a sturdy platform or step stool that is about six inches high and let the other foot hang off the edge loosely. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower the hanging foot to the ground. Do this 10 times, and then switch legs and repeat.
MOR physicians and athletic trainers recommend strengthening the knees to prevent injuries. Strengthening the hamstrings and the quadriceps muscles around the knee can help reduce pressure and stress on the knee joint and allow it to absorb shock better.
Download your free prevention tips and exercise guides here: Knee Injuries