I have had more than one teenage athlete tell me about their knee surgeries with pride, as if having their knees operated on is proof they are a super athlete. Adults are also having knee surgery at a rate that is alarming, at least to me. We are grateful for the skill of surgeons and acknowledge that most of these surgeries were needed, however, many could have been prevented and once we have been cut into we are never the same. A good athlete, professional or amateur, will actively work to prevent injuries so they can continue to work at peak performance.
Here are some ways to prevent knee injury:
Warm up – use dynamic stretching exercises like windmill, wood chopper, cross jacks and jumping jacks. Avoid static stretching of muscles that are not thoroughly warmed up.
Stretch Daily – Spend a few minutes after your workout to stretch and cool down
Foam Rolling – Foam roll IT bands, glutes, hamstrings and quads. This is soft tissue. If it hurts it means it is too tight. If you are not familiar with foam rolling see any FitMania trainer or contact us for more information.
Cross-Train – Unless your exercise program is a head-to-toe conditioning program, like FitMania’s, you need to shake it up. Beating up the same muscles every day is a recipe for injury by overuse or unbalanced development of muscles.
Squats and Lunges – When our legs are strong they are better equipped to support knees, hips and lower back. Bodyweight squats and lunges are easily the best exercises for strengthening legs and protecting knees but you have to do them right or you can actually damage knees.
Squats – Your body weight should always be on your heels. You may feel like you are about
to fall over backwards. Your feet are parallel and slightly more than shoulder width apart. Knees should stay over your ankles, your back is flat, chin up and hips should not drop below knees. You should feel a slight stretch in glutes and hamstrings and muscle fatigue in the quads. Please never use a squat rack or bar as it forces the weight forward on the knees, over develops quads causing hip problems, and compresses the spine. Check out this video on squats: https://youtu.be/72LbvzNQZ5U
Lunges – Lunge forward with weight on the front heel, back knee brushes the floor and both legs are at right angles. Hold your good posture, with shoulders squared. Push off with your heel. Please see the attached videos. Check out this video on alternating lunges: https://youtu.be/PCTJMCoIgYo
We each have only one body. Let’s keep it without surgical scars as much as possible.
By Sherry Stirling Fernandez