For those of you who have not had a knee injury, then congratulations! For the rest of you reading this, either you already have knee pain from an injury or are looking to prevent another one, then you are in luck. We are about to take a deep dive into the most common types of knee injuries and more importantly what you can do to avoid them.
This can be a tough one. If you get hit really wrong or hard enough by something, your knee is going to break. This does sound a little doom and gloom, but there is still plenty that you can do to prevent these. The big thing is going to be doing weight bearing exercise. This will help to keep your bone density strong and decrease your chance of a fracture either through minimal or maximal impacts. The possibilities when it comes to the exercises you choose here is pretty much endless and up to your imagination. The main focus is going to be around the complex movement patterns of the squat, lunge or step and bend. These require a lot of work from the muscles and bones surrounding the ankles, knees and hips and really help to promote their growth and strength
Ligament Sprains and Muscle and Tendon Strains
These are quite common among athletes and the general population alike. Grade 1 is pretty mild and you can often continue all activities with some rest and proper corrective exercise. This is something that you should be able to bounce back from quickly. Grade 2 is more extensive and can include some tearing as well as leaving the joint unstable. Recovery time goes up quite a bit and will almost certainly require physical therapy to help you get back to your prior level of activity.
Whichever grade you have you should still take a sprain or strain seriously. It is hard to say without getting very specific how to help repair these, but prevention is going to be very similar to that avoid avoiding fractures. You will also see a reoccuring theme because, thankfully for you, the prevention strategies can be very similar. This should tell you how important these movements are. Again the squat, lunge or step and bend patterns come into play. You will want to make sure you add in proprioceptive exercises. These are ones that require your body to be able to recognize where it is in space and move properly to stabilize and prevent injury.
Ligament, Muscle and Tendon Tears
Technically these are still a sprain or strain, but the severity is different and they would be graded as a level 3 sprain or strain and will usually require surgery. You will continue with the same injuries for prevention as above. You can also get by with just physical therapy (yes, we’ve done it), but will have to be diligent with your home exercise program to really make sure that all other structures are top notch and can support the knee properly.
This is an interesting one. Tendinitis almost always gets pegged as an “overuse” injury. While I agree to some extent with this, there is an important caveat to be made alongside it. The overuse is usually because something is out of balance causing the tendon to become inflamed. In the knee it can be either the patellar tendon or quadriceps tendon that takes the brunt of it all. This is one where people say “I didn’t change anything, it just started hurting” and is why it will often be pegged as overuse. But for people who get it just walking or running, usually didn’t just start walking or running.
This comes down to finding the cause. In our clinics we notices that there are two primary causes of imbalance that cause tendinitis. One is that the anterior chain (think muscles on front of the body) becomes too strong and short/tight. The other is that the posterior chain (think muscles on back of body) often become weak and lengthened. The best way to prevent it would thus be stretching the front and strengthening the back. Seems simple, but can be a good starting point.
This is your classic “wear and tear” of the knee. Just because it is classic, does not mean that it can’t be terrible for those suffering from it. It is a wearing doing of the cartilage at the knee joint and can progress to bone spurs and the rubbing of bone on bone. Lucky for you, there are things you can do to prevent this from occurring.
- Movement: More specifically, pain free movement. Helping to pump the joints can help with hydration and bringing more fluid into the area. There is really exact movements, but anything that feels good for you. The best movement here is the one you are going to do. This can be something a physical therapist can help you find out. Stretching is usually another bigger. The quads tend to tighten up more and can be problematic since it puts more compression on the knee joint.
- Nutrition: Rule 1…drink ½ your bodyweight in ounces of water daily. That is it. Rule 2…avoid inflammatory foods. The most common include sugar, soy, industrial seed oils, pasteurized dairy, grains (if not properly prepared) and alcohol. Sure there are more, but if you drink your water and avoid these, you will see marked improvements.
An injury to the meniscus comes down to 2 main categories:
Traumatic: This often results during a squat or lunge type motion when coupled with twisting. The biggie in preventing these is completing all of the strengthening for squat and lunge patterns in multiple planes and under varying circumstances, so that you can properly control how the knee should move.
Age-Related: This is often from a wearing and weakening of the cartilage over time. It is exacerbated by osteoarthritis and anything that can cause increased wear and tear on the joint. The biggie with this will be restoring proper mechanics of the knee that you may need to see your physical therapist for as well as doing the strengthening needed to help support the knee as well as learning how to open the joint space to avoid the “bone-on-bone” that often occurs.
These are often caused by a traumatic injury. They can be either at the hinge of the knee (femur and tibia) or the patella. Either way, you will need to help stabilize the knee like crazy through proper strengthening of functional squat, lunge and step movement patterns. Your specific joint structure can also come into play, where you would want to talk to your local physical therapist to see what it is that you can do to help prevent any future problems.
This is one where all you need to do is roll out your IT band on a foam roller. NOT! This might give some relief, but is not going to help you address this problem in the long term, but is often all that is prescribed. This has become short and tight for a reason and is causing pain from the friction of the band going over the outside of the knee or hip. You certainly do want to address any abnormal tension to the lateral leg and hip by stretching and proper foam rolling, but strengthening is a biggie here. Often the knee collapses during squat, lunge, step patterns as well as when walking or running. This weakness in the hips and with these movements is what causes the IT band to shorten and cause the pain.
For those of you who are looking for a little more info on preventing knee injuries see our Knee Pain Course. Through the course and following the steps above you will be well on your way to keeping your knees healthy and preventing injury!
If you are ready to get started right away then do not hesitate to give a call at 610-841-3555 and get started on the path to healing right away.
That’s all for now! Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below and if you sign up for a course you will be able to get to stay on top of all things Robbins Rehab!