Injuries to the knees are very common in those who take up sports. The knee joint can twist or bend the wrong way, leading to damage to the cartilage, tendons, ligaments and more. Whether it’s a break or a sprain, damage to the knees is painful and can be difficult to heal.
Some knee injuries can cause problems for the rest of your life. They can damage your sporting career if you don’t take precautions.
If you’re getting involved with exercise or taking up a sport, you want to make sure you take precautions to protect your knees. There’s nothing you need to do especially, but you should follow these simple techniques. They’re all simple to master and perfect for runners, football players, cyclists, and much more.
Stretch Your Muscles Before Exercising
The most important thing you need to do is to stretch your muscles before you start exercising. This is important for the whole body but especially important for the knees.
Without stretching, your muscles are cold. Think of stretchy items when they’ve gotten cold. Most of the time, they won’t stretch out and will break instead. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments and other tissues are like this. If they’re cold, you don’t get the elasticity of them. Those who don’t warm up are more at risk of suffering injuries throughout their bodies, as the tissues tear rather than stretch.
To warm the tissues you up, you’ll need to do some light jogging and stretching. Hamstring stretches, calf stretches, straight leg raises, and knee-to-chest exercises can all help to prevent knee injuries, as you warm up the muscles and tendons surrounding the knees.
While this isn’t a definitive way to prevent all injuries, you’ll help to minimize most them.
You will also want to help the muscles cool down afterward. This won’t necessarily prevent injuries, but it will minimize the recovery aches after.
Opt for Good Supportive Shoes
While you want to keep the cost down on equipment, the one thing you need to spend money on is your running shoes. Football boots, rugby boots, etc. are also the same. You want shoes that aren’t just comfortable but will support your whole foot.
One of the best things you can do is the book a fitting for your shoes. Some companies will allow you to stand on a machine or run on a treadmill. This helps to see where you put the pressure when you jog or walk and see if you twist your legs the wrong way. The specialist can then get shoes that will help to correct any flat-footedness or support a high instep.
If you can’t get shoes, then at least look for insoles that offer support. Doctors and podiatrists may recommend a high-arching insole if you have a problem with flat-footedness. When you’re flat-footed, your foot drops inward and twists your knee the wrong way. You end up putting pressure on your knee in the wrong way, increasing the chance of injury to your knees.
As for high insteps, you may need an insole that offers extra support. You want to make sure you don’t accidentally drip your foot inward because you don’t have the support.
You’ll want the right shoes for certain sports. Make sure they’re suitable for the type of surface you’re on. For example, an Astroturf needs a different type of sole compared to the asphalt.
Whatever type of shoes you wear, make sure they’re fastened properly. There’s nothing worse than them coming undone and you tripping over your laces!
You may want to talk to a podiatrist about your legs and knees. If you have some medical conditions, your doctor will be able to recommend a certain type of shoe.
Replace Your Shoes Regularly
As mentioned, your shoes are the elements that you’ll want to spend money on. This includes on replacing them. They do wear down much quicker than most of other equipment, especially if you do a lot of exercises and outdoor running.
Poor fitting or worn out shoes can lead to injuries. You don’t get the right support for your feet, and there’s a risk of tripping if the sole has started to come away from the shoe.
If you exercise daily, you’ll want to replace your shoes every three months or so. Those who exercise a little less may be able to wait four to six months. Shoes start to wear down between 300 and 500 miles. It’s not easy to track your running and walking time, so you’ll want to track the time.
Don’t use your exercise shoes for normal use. This not only increases the time they wear down but will also cause problems as you change the way you move your feet between walking leisurely and running. There’s nothing wrong with having cheaper shoes for walking around, as long as they’re comfortable. But you will likely want to spend a little more on your running shoes.
Consider a Knee Brace
While knee braces are common in those who have had an injury, they can also be used to protect and prevent injuries. They are especially good for those who have had a previous injury that’s fully healed and want to prevent that injury forming again. Unlike bones, when the tendons become damaged, they don’t heal stronger than before.
Make sure you get the right type of knee brace and that it fits properly. Your doctor will discuss whether a knee brace is necessary for your legs.
Soft fabric braces tend to be the best options. You may want a rigid metal one if you’ve had a severe injury in the past. However, they can be a little non-cooperative when it comes to some exercises. A soft brace will still allow you to move around well and you can continue to play your games. You’ll find a lot of sports that involve jumping and twisting will have players using knee braces to protect their joints.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for whichever type of brace you buy. These instructions are to help you get the most out of your equipment.
Follow a Diet for the Muscles
Your tendons and muscles will improve health with the right type of ingredients. While you want plenty of protein, you’ll also want to make sure you get plenty of calcium in your diet. The two nutrients work together to make sure the whole body works effectively.
Dark leafy greens are the best types of foods you can add to your diet. Broccoli, kale, spinach, and collards are all extremely easy to add. You can cook them, eat them raw, or add them to a smoothie.
You’ll also want to get plenty of yogurt, cheese or milk. The ingredients are packed with both calcium and protein. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, stock up on lentils, legumes, and beans. They are also packed with all the necessary food groups. Almond milk is a good alternative to cow’s milk for protein and calcium.
Of course, protein is important. Finish your exercise with a shake that has some added protein. You can also opt for a small meal that is packed with lean protein. This nutrient will help to improve the recovery period, meaning your tissues are ready the next time you come to exercise!
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
If you currently drink alcohol, you want to reduce your intake. Too much alcohol can make your tendons and other tissues weaker than they should be. In fact, alcohol affects your whole body, especially if you drink large amounts. The alcohol prevents your body from absorbing plenty of calcium, which can increase your risk of osteoporosis and make you more likely to suffer an injury.
Opt for no more than one to two drinks a day. One drink is one small glass of wine or a beer.
If you can opt for less than that on regular days. Alcohol will also affect your exercising performance. It leaves your body slightly sluggish. The last thing you’ll want to do when you’re suffering a hangover is exercise. And you’re not likely to be focused on your exercise, so you can make mistakes or not look out for potholes while running.
Make Sure Previous Injuries Heal Fully
If you’ve had a previous injury, you’ll want to make sure it’s fully healed before you start exercising again. I know you’ll want to jump right in, but not allowing yourself to heal is not going to do yourself any favors. You’re more at risk of suffering another injury or aggravating the current injury.
Follow your doctor’s orders to help recover from an injury. Even a minor sprain will need some time to repair. If you give yourself time, you stand a better chance of healing to the strength your knee was before.
When you do go back into exercise, keep it slow and steady. Don’t straight into the exercises you were doing before, especially if you’ve taken weeks to heal. Your whole body isn’t at the standard it was before.
You can opt for some low-impact injuries while healing if your doctor recommends it. Stretching and yoga exercises are among the best to start with. You can then opt for strengthening exercises. Helping to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the injury will help to minimize the risk of re-injury later.
Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist before returning to your full workout. Your doctor will also give you exercises to do to start and recommend ways to build up.
Stop If You Feel Pain
There’s no need to push yourself to exercise more if you feel pain. Rather than pushing through it, take a step back and assess why the pain is there.
Of course, you’ll know your body better. If the pain is an ache from the muscles not being used much—more of discomfort than pain—then you may be able to keep going. Sometimes your muscles will ache from exercise the day before, and you need to give yourself time to stretch off the aches. Take a little longer in the warm up to make sure that’s the case and don’t forget to stretch the next time to avoid the pain next time.
However, any niggling, tingling or sharp pains shouldn’t happen. Even if it’s just a twinge now and then, you need to stop and get yourself checked out. Let your doctor make sure there is nothing more serious happening.
Sometimes all you’ll need is to rest at home and elevate your leg. As the pain subsides, you can try exercising again, but the first sign of more pain and you’ll need to stop.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you will likely feel pain when exercising. Other health conditions can also cause some pain. Make sure you talk to your doctor before exercise to make sure it’s safe to do.
Aid the Recovery Time
After your workout, you’ll want to take steps to aid your workout. This simple option will help to reduce the risk of a knee injury later. The quicker your muscles and tissues recover, the healthier they will be and more ready they are when it comes to exercising again. And there isn’t a lot that you need to do to make the most of your health.
Start with stretching off properly after your workout. This prevents the buildup of lactic acid and can help to ease the pain in the muscles after a workout. Using ice or cold compresses can also help. Some people will opt for an ice bath but cool water when showering can be helpful or a cold compress around your joints to help ease any swelling from the exercise.
Keep your stress to a minimum to help reduce inflammation and listen to your body. This is the best way to put yourself first and protect your knees from injury. Follow the simple techniques above, and you’ll be on your way to success.
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