5 Tips to Avoid Knee Injuries

May is national Physical Fitness and Sports Month!  May welcomes warmer spring weather, and sports like softball and baseball are getting back into full swing.  Parks are full at the basketball court, and people are walking, jogging or playing outside.  We are all anxious to get back outdoors and stay busy with our physical fitness or sports activities, but let’s not forget how to properly care for our bodies, specifically our overworked joints and knees.

Sports can be pretty rough on the knees, with injuries common not only with the professional athletes we see on television, but in our own backyards.  When we decide to go shoot some hoops, or warm up with our teenager as they prepare for a big ball game, remembering these 5 useful tips will help you to avoid a knee injury.

#1 – Keep your Knee Muscles Strong and Flexible

Take care of your knees and the muscles that support them!  Always warm up before any physical activity with stretches.  Some simple hamstring and quadricep stretches will help to keep your knees strong and flexible.

Begin with stretches to the point of gentle tension, and hold for at least one full minute working up to holding your stretch longer for up to six minutes.  To stretch your hamstring simply lie on your back and lift one leg straight up in the air while keeping your other leg flat, repeat with the other leg.  For a nice quadricep stretch, stand on one leg while bending the other leg up behind you (hold onto a wall for balance), grab the shin of your bent leg behind you and pull your shin up towards your glutes, keeping your knee pointing downward towards the ground.   This gives a nice gentle stretch to your quadricep, remember to stretch slowing and never bounce.

#2 – Increase Activity on Your Knees Gradually

An exercise routine must be incremented gradually to avoid injury.  Starting any physical activity too hard or fast will often result in injury.  By building up your physical activity gradually, and not increasing the intensity to quickly you can help to ward off injuries to your knees.

Be sure to speak with your doctor about a physical fitness plan and goals, and work together to develop a safe and effective plan for you.

#3 – Start with Low-Impact Exercises

Beginning with low-impact exercises is a great way to increase your activity gradually and avoid knee injury.  If you are looking for some physical activities to do outdoors, think about good old fashioned walking.   Walking helps to strengthen your leg muscles which takes pressure off of your joints, and will contribute to less knee pain especially as we age.  When exercising at a gym

try a cross-country skiing machine or a rowing machine for a low-impact workout.   There is no need for an intense high impact workout to stay physically fit, start with a low impact activity and increase gradually.

#4 – Maintain a Healthy Weight

Extra weight puts added stress on your knees.  Maintaining a healthy weight for your size can help to reduce stress on your knees, decreasing the chances of incurring knee injuries.   You can be kind to your knees by losing excess weight, as every pound that you lose will release four times the pressure on your knees.

Relieving pressure will relieve pain.  Losing excess weight is a good idea for general well-being and warding off a multitude of health problems, and makes a very big difference to relieve pain in joints and knees.

Just by practicing a regular physical fitness routine, with low-impact exercises like walking, you will be strengthening your muscles along with shedding extra pounds.

#5 – Don’t Lock Out or Over-Extend Your Knees

When exercising, be careful to not over-extend your knees and especially don’t lock them out during any physical activity.  Doing so can cause serious injury to your knees.  When exercising on an elliptical trainer or a stair climber, be careful to not straighten out your legs completely.  Locking your knees puts unnecessary pressure and stress on the joint, opening the door for injury.  Use your muscles to control your leg movements, and avoid locking your knees during any strenuous activity.

We don’t realize just how much we take our knee joints for granted, until an injury occurs and we are left with a lingering pain that affects our daily activities.  Follow these 5 tips to avoid undue stress and pressure on your knees, and you will enjoy your physical fitness routine that much more.

Enjoying our activities is key to continuing in our physical activities, and as we all know, consistency is key.  Don’t give up on a fitness routine due to an unnecessary knee injury.

Your friends at the Greater Waterbury Imaging Center understand the importance of maintaining healthy muscles and joints.  Contact your doctor with any lingering pain, and call on Greater Waterbury for all of your imaging needs for prompt, professional and caring assistance.