Whether you’re practicing a low-impact sport such as cycling or something a bit more heavy-duty- the risk of injuring your knee is always prevalent. Bearing witness to the ever-present threat of knee injuries is the fact that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) found that knee injuries are the most common kind of injury in college football.
Whether you’re a football player, a cyclist or a runner, it is essential that you exercise caution and incorporate prevention techniques within your training to minimize the risk of knee injuries as much as possible.
Some tried and tested tips to reduce the risk of knee injuries include the following:
#1- Stretch, stretch and stretch!
Although stretching might seem too redundant to be our first tip, it’s often the most overlooked part in an athlete’s workout routine.
The way this works is simple. By effectively stretching, you improve your knee joint’s mobility and range of motion. However, don’t just focus on stretching your knee joints out. Instead, opt for a more rounded approach, and stretch your entire body out, while placing extra emphasis on your ankles and hips.
Furthermore, try to incorporate both ‘dynamic’, and ‘static’ stretches into your workout routine!
#2- Avoid over-exertion:
After all the time you’ve invested in stretching, the last thing you’d want to do is to over-exert yourself by doing ‘too much.’ As athletes, we are often told to push ourselves beyond our limits. As tempting as that might sound, you need to be careful, particularly when you’re looking to minimize knee injuries.
Avoid overtraining your knee by selecting exercises that cater to your specific needs and weaknesses, rather than blindly following what everyone else is doing.
#3- Work on improving your technique:
As we mentioned above, the lack of a proper technique while training usually leads to knee injuries, especially for athletes who have recently taken up a sport.
If you’re a cyclist and are continuously haunted by knee pains, you need to ensure that you’re pedaling correctly in smooth circles, rather than exerting all your weight on the pedals. Similarly, runners need to keep their feet pointed in the direction they’re running, rather than letting your feet splay to the side.
Working on your technique also reduces the risk of dislocating your knee joint, and helps prevent overstretching as well.
#4- Listen to what your body has to say:
Perhaps the most fatal mistake athletes can make is to ignore the signs their body is giving them. Knee injuries don’t happen in an instant- they produce signals in the form soreness, odd aches and pains.
The easiest thing to do would be to ignore these pressing signs and carry on with your workout; however, the smart thing to do would be to take a break and rest!