Why Do Knee Injuries Occur?1. Poor biomechanical alignment 2. Suboptimal muscle function and strength 3. Poor mobility at adjacent joints 4. Poor strength in surrounding musculature 5. Excessive tension in surrounding muscle and fascia 6. Overuse Types of Knee Injuries 1. Acute knee injuries are those that occur in a moment – as in "if you blink at the wrong moment you’ll miss it" kind of thing. Acute knee injuries result in ligament tears, meniscal tears, etc. By taking a small mental step forward, acute knee traumas can further be classified into two separate categories: contact and non-contact injury.
Anytime I find out an athlete I work with has sustained the ever popular ACL tear the first thing I want to know is if it was a contact situation or not. Why? Because in the situation of a contact injury, there is really nothing that can be done to avoid sustaining that ACL tear (or insert your own injury of choice). In fact, the knee in question can often be functioning perfectly without any strength imbalances or deficiencies whatsoever. And that means that there was an outside force that initiated the injury sequence. A good example is that of a soccer player who is slide tackled. If the foot is planted as the impact occurs, say goodbye to continued knee health and hello to months of therapy. Even the most “perfect” knee will usually not make it out of that situation unscathed.
On the other hand, a non-contact injury typically occurs because the athlete is not strong enough to decelerate his or her own body mass safely. For example, if a basketball player goes to plant and cut and the knee simply “goes-out.” In this instance there was no contact to blame, instead the cause is simply lack of strength (with probable issues of joint restriction about certain joints, too). Chronic Myofascial Injury This is another extremely popular knee injury amongst young athletes. This one is very general and more of the “my knee hurts” kind of pain in which there are no signs of traumatic injury of any kind. In reality, this isn’t so much a knee injury, as a problem with the muscle tissue. My caution here is if you are a coach be sure you don’t write off these types of complaints as unfounded because this is a real problem that should be addressed by improving movement techniques and taking a look at the volume of work (so, think improve strength and address overuse). Chronic Joint Injury These are the old injuries that really settle in as we age and usually affect people that have had serious knee pain or have been dealing with a traumatic injury for and extended period of time. “Current literature indicates that a one-time trauma (such as an ACL tear) significantly increases the probability of knee osteoarthritis, pain, and functional limitations later in life.” – Bulletproof Knees In the case of chronic joint injury, performance improvements are no longer important. At this point the emphasis must be placed on improving the comfort of daily living, longevity of the joint, and avoiding major surgery.
10 Things You Must Do for Healthy Knees 1. Get your glutes firing!!! 2. Strengthen the posterior chain 3. Lots-O-Single-leg work 4. Strengthen the quads 5. Work frequently to improve hip mobility (like it’s going out of style) 6. Address ankle mobility 7. Maintain and improve tissue length 8. Maintain and improve tissue quality 9. LEARN TO ABSORB FORCE CORRECTLY!!! (This one is crucial, but you must have already gone through a focused period working on numbers 1-8 before attacking force absorption whole-heartedly) 10. Improve diet and supplementation (when appropriate)
So, where/how should you get started? The obvious answer is to click here and start training with us in-person or via our distance program. Buuuuuuut, if you're really eager, here is a great starter exercise that will knock out at least 5 or the 10 listed above: Stepback Slider Lunges
Many thanks to Mike Robertson's excellent source on all things knee related in Bulletproof Knees - I've referenced it many times over the last two years and leaned on it heavily for this post, too.