Knee pain is a common injury we hear about all the time among athletes, especially those who participate in high-impact sports such as soccer, basketball, and football.
Sports injuries to the knee can be debilitating and can greatly impact an athlete’s performance, making it essential to understand the different types of knee injuries and how to prevent and treat them.
In this blog, we will focus on four common knee injuries among athletes: ACL tears, meniscus tears, hamstring strains, and patella tendonitis.
Common Knee Injuries For Athletes #1 – ACL Tear
One of the most significant knee injuries an athlete can experience is an ACL tear.
What Is An ACL Tear?
The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is a crucial stabilizing ligament in the knee that helps keep the shinbone (tibia) in place. When the ACL is torn, it can cause severe pain and instability, making it difficult to perform even the most basic movements.
ACL Tear Recovery Times
Recovery from an ACL tear often requires surgery and can keep an athlete out of their sport for a significant amount of time, typically around 9-12 months.
One recent example is with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who tore an ACL this past season after missing some time with a hamstring injury to that same knee a few weeks prior.
Optimise Recovery To Avoid An ACL Tear
The best way to prevent an ACL tear as an athlete is to ensure that you’re providing adequate recovery after training or games.
This could include stretching to reduce muscle tightness, foam rolling to increase circulation, rest days, and general off-field conditioning exercises. Additionally, it’s important that you warm up pre-game or practice to prepare the body for intense activity.
Following these steps will keep an athlete’s body running smoothly and help prevent any unnecessary medical complications during a game or practice session.
Common Knee Injuries For Athletes #2 - Meniscus Tear
Another common knee injury among athletes is a meniscus tear.
What Is A Meniscus Tear?
The meniscus is a cartilage that cushions the knee joint and helps with stability. Meniscus tears can occur from a traumatic event, such as a twist or pivot, or from degeneration due to overuse. Prevention should always be a top priority with any hamstring injury; athletes should rest sufficiently and practice proper form when engaging in practice and their sports in order to prevent a potentially devastating meniscus tear.
Meniscus Tear Recovery Times
These tears can range from minor to severe and can also require surgery. With proper rehabilitation and with the guidance of a sports specialist, athletes can expect to return to their sport in 4-6 weeks post-surgery.
How To Avoid A Meniscus Tear
By engaging in regular hamstring stretching, the risk of meniscal injuries can be decreased by over 50%.
Additionally, hamstring strengthening exercises such as hamstring curls with the use of resistance bands or cables can also help reduce the chances of sustaining a meniscus tear. These exercises should be performed two to three times a week to ensure maximal hamstring strength and flexibility.
Finally, it is important that athletes perform other stabilizing movements like lunges, plyometrics and bridges in order to have a well-balanced program and create strong muscles around the knee joints.
With these simple exercises and dedication to proper form, athletes of any age or experience level can decrease their chances of suffering from an agonizing meniscus tear.
Common Knee Injuries For Athletes #3 – Hamstring Strains
Hamstring strains are another knee injury that can occur frequently among athletes.
What Is A Hamstring Strain?
This injury occurs when the muscles located in the back of the thigh become over-stretched or torn. Symptoms include sudden sharp pain in the back of the thigh, swelling, bruising, and difficulty in straightening the leg fully. Hamstring strains can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe, (grades 1, 2, 3) with recovery time varying depending on the severity of the injury.
Hamstring Strain Recovery Times
Recovery from a hamstring strain can range from a few days to several weeks, or even longer for severe strains. While a strained hamstring can be painful and debilitating for athletes it’s important to remember that early diagnosis and proper treatment can help reduce recovery time so that individuals can get back on track as soon as possible.
Why Are Hamstring Strains So Common?
Strained hamstrings are an alarmingly common injury among athletes, particularly those who engage in activities that require a lot of running, jumping, and kicking – all three of which involve hamstring muscles. Athletes perform these moves countless times in sports such as soccer, football, and basketball; and this repeated movement without sufficient rest or recovery can lead to hamstring strains.
Additionally, hamstring injuries can be caused by sudden changes in direction or velocity combined with the attempt to go beyond normal limits. These acute hamstring problems can be especially dangerous if the athlete ignores them and plays through the pain.
Common Knee Injuries For Athletes #4 – Jumper’s Knee
Patella tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is another common knee injury among athletes.
What Is Jumper’s Knee?
Patella tendonitis is an overuse injury that affects the tendon that connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone. It is typically caused by repetitive stress or overuse, such as running, jumping, or stair climbing. The injury can cause pain and stiffness, making it difficult to perform activities that stress the knee.
Jumper’s Knee Recovery Times
Rehabilitation for patella tendonitis typically involves rest, ice, and physical therapy to reduce inflammation and strengthen the surrounding muscles. Recovery time varies but can range anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
How Physical Therapy Can Stop Jumper’s Knee
Fortunately, physical therapy can help stop jumper’s knee from recurring and manage the pain.
Through regular visits, physical therapists will evaluate the injury-causing jumper’s knee and then create a treatment plan to strengthen the weak muscles and stretched tendons that contribute to this condition.
By increasing strength and flexibility, athletes can reduce jumper’s knee pain and increase their range of motion. Physical therapy also allows overall musculoskeletal mobility to be better managed in order to prevent future jumper’s knee injuries while engaging in active lifestyles.
Drastically Speed Up Recovery From Knee Injuries That Stop You From Playing Your Sport
It’s extremely crucial for athletes and their parents to understand the importance of rehabilitation when it comes to knee pain and injuries. Rehabilitation with a sports specialist is the key to a quick recovery, and the ability to return to sports without any limitations. Our sports specialists are trained to understand the demands of the sport and help athletes recover in a way that they can return to their sport safely, and with minimal risk of re-injury.
In recent years, many new modalities have been implemented in the rehabilitation of sports injuries, such as dry needling, cupping, scraping, red light therapy, and corrective exercises.
These modalities have been proven to speed up the recovery process, reduce pain and inflammation, and improve mobility and range of motion. In addition, adequate recovery, including sleep, nutrition, and hydration, is also important as it helps the body to repair itself, and prevent re-injuries.
In conclusion, knee pain is a common ailment among athletes. And injuries such as ACL, Meniscus tears, hamstring strains, and Patella Tendonitis can significantly impact an athletes ability to perform. Proper assessments with a sports specialist are ESSENTIAL for a quick recovery and returning to sport safely.
Athletes should HIGHLY consider taking preventative measures to avoid the potential of missing time due to knee pain or serious knee injuries.
To find out whether physical therapy is right for you, Arrange A Free Taster Session where you can visit our clinic, and speak to an expert sports specialist that can help you eliminate injuries, and perform better at your sport.
Call us on (609) 933-9922 to arrange your free taster session today.
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