I can’t help but get excited and appreciate the World Cup. Yes, I am a bandwagon soccer fan, but what’s not to appreciate; the fan fare, the passion, and the sheer athleticism and endurance of these athletes is astounding. As a physical therapist and overall movement nerd, I also can’t help but be impressed with the durability of the knees of world class soccer players. The truth is, their knees are able to withstand cutting, turning, landing from a header and quickly transitioning to a sprint, planting on one leg to shoot with the other; the whole time testing and challenging their knees’ integrity. This world class sporting event has inspired me to share some components of a “healthy knee” workout and provide a few exercises that can be added to your routine and progressed to maintain healthy knees throughout your active lives.
Multiple studies have shown that ACL injuries are more common (2-8 times) in female athletes, especially teens and adolescents, than their male counterparts playing at their same level. This alone, necessitates education on injury screening and designing a conditioning program for female athletes at every level.
At Catalyst PT and Wellness, we are firm believers in injury prevention sport-specific training and PT check-ups before a season starts and throughout a healthy athlete’s career. We pride ourselves in taking a 3-dimensional approach to movement analysis and conditioning; watching how a knee responds in all directions. This 3D approach is supported by research to successfully reduce primary-injury risk and incidence in ACL injuries.
The essential components necessary to re-educate your neuromuscular system and strengthen your leg muscles properly to prevent knee injury are:
- exercises promoting greater knee flexion and symmetrical knee flexion during landing
- single-leg exercises incorporating postural control
- exercises promoting lateral hip/gluteal muscles strength and control
- exercises that facilitate greater hamstring to quadricep utilization ratio
All of these components will help control the knee’s position while landing, or the ability to change direction over a planted leg without injury.