The words “knee injury” strike fear into the heart of professional athletes and weekend warriors alike. Whether the damage is done to your meniscus tear a ligament, knee injuries can keep you on the sidelines for an extended period of time. A nasty MCL tear sidelined Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for weeks during the 2015 season; Carson Palmer tore his ACL during the 2014 campaign, which kept him out for the entire NFL season.
Fortunately, you’re probably not the kind of guy who faces down NFL linebackers every weekend. So while some knee injuries are unavoidable—especially in contact sports—there are plenty of ways to keep your knees strong and decrease your chances of a serious injury. Whether you’re an aspiring powerlifter or just want to keep your joints well-oiled, make sure you learn these tips to stay running smoothly.
Derek Ochiai, M.D., specializes in hip arthroscopy & sports medicine at Nirschl Orthopaedic Center. Follow him on Twitter @DrDerekOchiai.
Preventing knee injuries starts with keeping your hips strong. This might seem counterintuitive at first—different joints, right?—but recent research has shown that improving gluteal strength with exercises like lunges and box jumps decreases the chance of significant ligament tears of the knee. The hips help to control the knee. Other exercises to help with knee control include quad and hamstring strengthening (squats to 90 degrees, prone leg curls).
Make Small Gains
Whenever you’re performing a new exercise, it’s important to go slowly. There’s no race to improve strength, and if you try to progress too quickly, you might have to deal with tendinitis, which will set you back. Slow and steady will get you where you need to be.
Stay in Shape
Finally, get in shape to play your sport. Working hard in the gym and increasing your overall fitness will prepare you better for your sport. Don’t just rely on playing a sport to get in shape. Although your sport can HELP keep you in shape, a consistent gym routine will do a much better job at keeping you in peak physical condition.