As we enter the middle stages of many competitive sports seasons, athletes' bodies are tired, sore and fatigued. This article aims to give general advice to athletes requiring Knee Rehab from small injuries and provide some preventative measures to ensure athletes stay injury-free for the remainder of the season.
The best advice we can give athletes who are starting to feel their knees twinge, become uncomfortable to run on or are experiencing nagging pain after training, is to ensure their recovery and strength training is optimal. Often athletes will reach the midway point of the season and start feeling some sort of niggle from their hips down. It is extremely important that athletes look after themselves and find that 30 minutes per day to keep their bodies healthy. In terms of preventative knee injuries, managing running load, consistent stretching/triggering or massage, cold water exposure and light aerobic exercise are all big factors in keeping your knees healthy. Even looking at total Alcohol consumption and general food intake can all play a part in inflammatory responses which can aid the efficiency of Recovery.
In terms of Knee Rehab, whilst every injury is different we can provide a general rule of thumb for athletes suffering from knee pain or a light strain. Firstly, consult a physician to gauge how serious the injury is. From there, maintaining load through your muscles is very important. We highly encourage working through pain-free ranges which allow for controlled muscle contraction. Keeping your Calves, Hamstrings, Glutes, Quads, Adductors and Abdominal muscle groups firing is important to maintain muscular balance and decrease the risk of further injuries later in Rehab. When specifically talking about Knee Rehab your Quad to Hamstring strength ratio is of our highest priority. Athletes with weak Quads compared to their hamstrings will usually struggle with high load and intensity efforts. Your Quads absorb and produce large amounts of force through acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, sprinting and jumping. If they are not strong enough to partake in these activities, the strain is taken by an athlete's knees, causing potentially long-term injuries.
Athletes suffering from chronic injuries or acute minor injuries such as Patella Tendinopathy, Chondromalacia and ligamentous tears may benefit from Isometrics. In Knee Rehab, this can look like bent knee leg press holds, squat holds, assisted lunge holds or if an athlete is weak through extension, this may look like leg extension hold variations starting from very basic wall Isometrics to heavy leg extension movements. We suggest you consult a physician before participating in any of these Knee Rehab exercises.
Resistance Sports Science is proud to host an extensive Knee Rehab program for any athletes looking to prevent or Rehab their knee injury. Our University qualified Allied Health team specialise in Sports Rehab and understand the importance of returning to sport in optimal time periods. Together our Sports Physiotherapy team will work with our Exercise Physiology and Strength and Conditioning team to optimise the time you spend in Rehab. There is much more to Rehab than just Rehabbing your knee! Athletes who suffer long-term injuries such as ACL or Meniscus tears need an environment where they can continue training for performance. Our Athletes will maintain strength through both sides of their body, our Strength coaches will ensure they stay strong through their upper body and core and together, the team at RSS ensures any athlete who walks in for Rehab, walks out a stronger more confident athlete.
Our general advice for anyone suffering with a niggling knee injury who wants to get on top of things is listed in these 5 points. We can not recommend these enough for a successful return to sport.
Tip 1: Consult your physician before starting any exercise plan. It is important you understand the magnitude of your injury before you start any Knee Rehab program. At the very least, your Physician should provide you with basic homework exercises and a recovery plan to get you back to training and eventually sport.
Tip 2: Train every muscle group in functional isolation. Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads, Calves and Adductor muscle groups need to be trained in isolation to ensure they are adapting to a stimulus. The problem with injuries is new injuries from non-affected sights. You can avoid this by keeping your musculature strong around the affected site. Those who have not stayed in the gym post-injury will often find their Rehabbed leg is stronger than the non-affected leg. This can have potentially long-term effects!
Tip 3: Stretch, Trigger and Massage! Your muscles need blow flow and relaxation. After an injury, it is common for muscles to “tighten or stiffen” this is a neuromuscular response to the injury. Your body is telling you not to move the affected sight. This is fine temporarily but after many days this can cause further problems later in Rehab.
Tip 4: Maintain your Aerobic base. It is easy to use an injury as an excuse to stop training until it’s healed. Unfortunately, your body only needs 7-10 days to start deteriorating from all the hard work you have done in the pre-season. By maintaining your Aerobic base, you decrease your fatigue in the gym and at training, increase your decision-making skills and it decrease the heavy huff and puffs which hinder you from training harder!
Tip 5: Return to play when you have no hesitation. Athletes who hesitate get injured. They may stop unexpectedly in fear of hurting themselves and in turn receive a nock from an opposition player or they may pull at a kick that they didn’t want to bomb which resulted in a hamstring strain. Not only be hesitating are you risking injury you may also let your team down. Before you return to play, you must be convinced there is no injury and your body will hold together through anything it is thrown into.