Are You at Risk for Knee Injuries?
Your knee is the largest joint in your body. It’s also a weight-bearing joint with tendons and ligaments surrounding and stabilizing the bones. So now consider that the average person takes about 5,000 steps per day, not to mention running, jumping or other high-impact activities. Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries, especially for athletes. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, knee pain results in more than 12 million visits to a doctor’s office a year.
ACL injuries, in particular, send more athletes to the doctor than any other injury. ACL injuries have been known to end athletes’ careers and only half of those that continue to play the sport return at the same performance level. Not only can a knee injury impact your athletic performance, but it can double the risk of you developing osteoarthritis down the road.
Causes of Knee Pain and Injury
Sports related knee injuries are quite common. Acute knee injuries, such as ACL tears, sprains, strains, fractures and dislocation, tend to be more common in sports like soccer, field hockey, gymnastics, skiing, snowboarding and volleyball. Overuse injuries, like tendinitis and bursitis, typically affect those who enjoy sports such as cycling, running and swimming.
Additionally, female athletes are 4 times more prone to sports injuries than men due to factors such as anatomy, strength and their natural jump technique. But it’s not just athletes that have knee pain and injury. Overuse or repetitive activity, whether it’s for exercise, recreation or work, can cause pain or injury to your knees. Being overweight also increases your risk of pain and injury. Every extra pound of weight on your body can increase the force on your knees by 5 pounds!
Reducing Your Risk
There are several things you can do to help prevent serious injury to your knees and potentially avoid surgery.
Whether you’re an athlete or not, consider these tips:
- Improve your flexibility – Stretching your calf and hamstrings before and after exercise or sports can help alleviate tension in the knee.
- Strengthen the muscles that help protect and stabilize your knees – Exercises such as wall sits and leg lifts can help improve your quadriceps strength, reducing the risk of knee injury.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight increases the stress on your knees. Knee pain may be reduced or even disappear simply by losing weight.
- Wear proper footwear – Athletic shoes should fit well and be appropriate for the sport.
- Don’t overdo it – So many knee injuries occur when people are tired. Listen to your body and consider resting when you feel knee pain.
Orthopedic Sports Medicine & Spine Care Institute is a comprehensive, premier team of specialists dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, habilitation and prevention of sports and orthopedic injuries and conditions. Our team is dedicated to improving the quality of life for our patients and their families.