Whether you’re rooting for your team to make it to the Superbowl, or cheering on your daughter’s soccer team, here are some of the most common knee injuries for each sport and how they can be prevented!
It’s very common in football to suffer from knee injuries, either from a hard tackle, a bad fall or from resisting being brought to the ground. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), the ligaments in the knee that form an “X” shape, are at a high risk of injury in football.
The meniscus is the piece of cartilage between the thighbone and shinbone and acts as a shock absorber. A meniscal tear is another common injury in football and occurs when the knee is twisted too far, which is common when the foot stays planted but the player’s body is rotated forcefully.
Many college and professional football players wear prophylactic knee braces to help prevent severe knee injuries. The data isn’t conclusive on whether this does help prevent injuries, but many teams now require their use.
Basketball Knee Injuries
Tearing the ACL is commonly injured in sports where you change direction abruptly or stop too suddenly. Quickly stopping, starting, and changing pace.
A meniscal tear is also common in basketball and occurs when the knee is twisted too far, which can result from a hard landing. We sometimes see this when one player fault lands on the top of another’s, causing an unbalanced distribution of weight.
Exercises that build strength in the muscles surrounding the knee can help prevent injuries and include squats and lunges. Players always need to warm up and stretch their thighs, calves, and hips.
Soccer Knee Injuries
Collisions, quick stops, and falls result in ACL and meniscal tears are common in this sport. An ACL tear is the most common season-ending injury for a soccer player, as surgery is almost always required to repair to a torn ligament.
A meniscal tear can often occur at the same time as an ACL tear, but if only the meniscus is torn it does not always require surgery and can heal with rest and physical therapy.
Warming up, stretching, and strengthening are all important factors in preventing knee injuries. Soccer players should also practice agility exercises and running while changing direction.
Hockey Knee Injuries
The MCL (medial collateral ligament), the ligament on the inner part of the knee that connects the shinbone to the thighbone, is most likely to be injured in hockey. This type of injury is common in hockey because it occurs from a blow to the outer part of the knee.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the MCL can be stretched or torn, which will determine the type of treatment and the amount of time the player is out for.
Avoiding getting hit in the knee is the best way to prevent this type of injury, but that’s easier said than done. Having a well-balanced strengthening program off the ice is the best way to ensure strong muscles and a stable knee joint.
Preventing Knee Injuries
Keep these prevention tips in mind to avoid injuring your own knee, and always listen to your body if you did sustain an injury. Not letting a knee injury heal or not getting the appropriate treatment can result in even more damage.