The Athlete's Guide To Avoiding Knee Injuries

Bulls player Derrick Rose in the middle of a game

The list of NBA and other sports superstars who have suffered nightmarish injuries and pain is endless, and for all of you men out there who play sports, you know how devastating it can be on the body, especially the knees.

How to do you avoid injury and ailments? Following are a few preventative measures and exercises that will protect and strengthen your knees.

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Tips For Avoiding Knee Injuries

Warm up. Before starting any exercise, warm up and then do stretches. If you stretch muscles in the front and back of your thighs, it decreases tension on your tendons, ultimately relieving pressure on the knees. Try the following stretches:

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Knee-to-chest stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Straight-leg raises

Avoid activities that stress your knees. Deep knee bends or downhill running can put strain on the knees. Make sure you wear shoes with good arch supports and when playing contact sports, wear the right shoes that are made for the surface you are playing or running on, such as a track or tennis court. It’s always good to replace running shoes every 300 to 500 miles (480 to 800 kilometers). Experts recommend getting new athletic shoes every 3 months or after 500 miles of wear.

Keep bones strong. Eat a nutritious diet with enough calcium and vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. Don’t drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day if you are a man, because it could put you at higher risk for weakening bones. Finally stop or do not begin smoking. Smoking puts you at a much higher risk for developing weak bones. It also interferes with blood supply and healing.

Exercises To Strengthen Your Knees

Leg extensions: This exercise will help strengthen the outer quadriceps, which ensure that your knee tracks over your toes when you perform bending motions, such as squatting. This exercise can be painful for those who are already suffering from knee injuries; if this is your case, you may want to either use a lighter weight or avoid it altogether.

Sit upright in the leg-extension machine and use your quads to slowly extend your legs. An advanced option for this exercise is to use one leg at a time. Complete 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.

Squats: Squats are known as the king of all exercises because they utilize so many different muscles in the body at one time. They are excellent for injury prevention because they develop a great deal of overall strength, which allows you to train harder and remain injury-free in your other activities.

Perform them with a barbell resting behind your head and across your shoulders (it is best to use a squat rack for this exercise). Next, position your feet so they are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and squat down, knees following over the toes.

The lower you can go on these, the better, as you will further call your glute muscles into play. If you are suffering from knee pain, take precaution, as going too low can place additional strain on them. Complete 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps.

Cable hip abductions: Stand beside a pulley machine and attach a cable to your outside ankle. Take a few steps away from the pulley and slowly raise your outside leg to the side as high as you can go. You will mostly feel it working in your hip muscle area. This will also help prevent knee problems by strengthening the muscles that help hold your knee in place. Use a lighter weight for this exercise and perform 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.