If you’re an athlete
… Take special care of your knees to prevent injuries.
… Use stretches and warm-ups to prep your knees for the stress of performing your sport.
… Help your knees recover after competing, training or exercising with either cold or heat.
Protect Your Knees for the Future
Knees are one of the most common body parts to sustain injuries during athletic activities.
Most sports rely on the intricate joint mechanisms within the knee for movement. When you put sudden stress on those parts or wear them down with repetitive motions, they suffer inflammation, tears or fractures.
If you play a sport regularly, you must protect your knees. Knee injuries can put you on the sidelines immediately and the pain can be excruciating. A knee injury can also cause lasting disability if not treated properly.
Luckily, preventing knee injuries is relatively straightforward. You just need to know how to take care of your knees and make a habit of doing so. If a knee injury does occur, your sports physical therapist knows just how to treat it.
Do Your Stretches
The number one rule of good joint health is don’t skip stretching! Stretching aids joint mobility and flexibility, so it’s easier on your knees when you run, jump and cut.
Stretching sessions should include the ankles and hips, too. If any part of your leg isn’t fully engaged before an athletic activity, it could put undue stress on your knees.
Along with stretching, do a proper warm-up routine before jumping into a game or a practice … or a training session or simply a morning run on the beach. You need to prime your body -your heart and lungs, too- for activity with some light exercise that signals to it’s time to get moving.
Warming up literally raises your body temperature and gets your blood flowing so your body is ready for the rigors of your sport. This lessens the shock to your knees when you transition to more forceful actions.
Use Therapeutic Heat
You can really turn up the heat and support good knee health with therapeutic heat. Therapeutic heat promotes good blood circulation around your joints for better function.
Before working out, apply a thermal wrap to your knees for 20-30 minutes or until your knees loosen up. You can use heat to relieve minor knee pain and aid healing of sore tissues, too.
As nice as heat feels on sore muscles and joints, sometimes it’s ice that does the trick. Cold relieves swelling and inflammation from overworked knees. Even if you aren’t in extreme pain, icing your knees after a workout for at least 20 minutes helps your joints recover from the stress they just endured.
Wear the Right Equipment
Whatever your sport, wearing the right clothing and equipment is essential for playing well and protecting yourself from injuries.
Don’t forget your knee pads if your sport requires them. Proper footwear that fits well also can prevent knee injuries from slipping and tripping. You also might find wearing a knee brace is helpful for extra stabilization.
It can be difficult to take a break when you’re training for a season, but the best way to injure yourself is to overdo it. After an intense workout, practice or game, you need to let your knees rest.
That doesn’t mean lay around and allow them to get stiff, however. Find a low-intensity activity to keep your knees engaged without stressing them. Swimming, cycling and yoga are great options.
Of course, you need your rest, too. Getting enough sleep at night, reducing stress with relaxation and taking the time to recuperate from an injury all are necessary for your overall health.
See a Sports Physical Therapist
If you’re having sports-related knee problems, a physical therapist can help. They can analyze and help you improve your technique to lessen the stress on your knees and guide you through strength and conditioning exercises. They also can use treatments like dry needling, cupping and manual therapy to relieve knee pain. Especially if you are recovering form surgery like an ACL reconstruction, you can benefit from orthopedic physical therapy and rehab.
Taking care of your knees as an athlete is essential. Bad knees will prevent you from competing and can last a lifetime. Follow these tips to help prevent and treat strain and injuries so your knees perform better, longer.
True Sports Physical Therapy – Where Maryland Athletes Rehab
At True Sports, we’re sports-focused because you’re sports-focused. The best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport. With six convenient state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment and have True Sports get you back to your team. For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at 1-401-946-1672.