Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Six Keys to Lowering Your Risk of a Knee Injury

A knee injury is a concern for many volleyball players, regardless of their age or skill level. While the media often focuses on ACL injuries, it’s important to understand that there are other types of knee injuries that can occur if preventive measures aren’t taken. In this article, we will explore six key strategies that can help reduce the risk of knee injuries and keep you in the game.

Get Stronger

Improving overall strength is crucial for knee injury prevention. Working with a professional to learn simple exercises that target the quadriceps and hamstrings can help create strength and durability in these areas. Addressing strength imbalances in the legs is important, as they can contribute to knee injuries.

Recommended exercises: walking lunges, squats, hamstring curls, and bridges.

Improve Flexibility/Mobility

Stretching plays a vital role in injury prevention. Many volleyball athletes express regret for not prioritizing flexibility during their younger playing days. Volleyball is a dynamic sport that involves multiple joints, so it’s crucial to value the flexibility of muscles and tendons, as well as the mobility of joints.

It’s important to remember that the condition of one body part affects others. For example, if the ankle joint lacks optimal range of motion, the forces exerted on it can impact the knee. Similarly, tight hamstrings, quadriceps, and iliotibial band can lead to poor patellar tracking and knee pain.

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Recommended exercises: Bretzel stretch, downward dog, kneeling hip flexor stretch, and the world’s greatest stretch.

Do a Proper Warmup

No matter the activity or body part, a proper warm-up is essential. Preparing your tissues for the work ahead is crucial to minimizing the risk of injuries.

Recommended warm-up: a combination of dynamic stretches, activation strength exercises, and plyometric exercises.

Wear Supportive Footwear and Knee Pads

Supportive footwear and knee pads are often overlooked but can significantly contribute to knee health. Proper ankle stability and mobility are vital for absorbing forces. Wearing appropriate footwear that provides stability during side-to-side movements and allows the heel to sit deeper in the shoe can help minimize knee stress.

The use of knee pads is a topic of debate in the volleyball community. However, having some cushioning can be beneficial, especially for players who frequently dive and dig balls.

Work on Your Stability

Stability and mobility are interconnected when it comes to joint health. It’s important to maintain good balance throughout all joints. For instance, when landing on one leg from a block, the foot and ankle need to hit the floor in a proper dorsiflexed position to stabilize the load. This allows the knee and hips to follow a path of flexion and absorption. Awkward landings can place unnecessary stress on the knee and the rest of the kinetic chain, extending to the hips and spine.

Practice Proper Biomechanics

Proper technique is crucial for preventing knee injuries. While some players may get away with non-ideal technique without immediate pain or injury, it can lead to long-term patterns of movement that increase the risk of injury. Coaches should emphasize the importance of correct technique, and players should prioritize it.

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Good technique not only reduces the risk of injury but also enhances overall performance.

Jill Wosmek was the head athletic trainer for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2009-2017. She is board certified by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and has a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota.

FAQs

Q: How can I reduce the chances of a knee injury in volleyball?
A: You can lower the risk of knee injuries by following these six key strategies: getting stronger, improving flexibility/mobility, doing a proper warm-up, wearing supportive footwear and knee pads, working on stability, and practicing proper biomechanics.

Q: Why is strengthening important for preventing knee injuries?
A: Strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings can create strength and durability in the legs, reducing the risk of imbalances that can lead to knee injuries.

Q: Can stretching help prevent knee injuries in volleyball?
A: Yes, stretching is essential for injury prevention in volleyball. It promotes flexibility in muscles and tendons, as well as mobility in joints, reducing the chances of poor patellar tracking and knee pain.

Q: How does proper footwear contribute to knee health?
A: Wearing supportive footwear that provides ankle stability and allows for proper movement can absorb forces and reduce knee stress during volleyball activities.

Q: Why is stability important for preventing knee injuries?
A: Good balance and stability throughout joints, particularly during landings, help distribute forces evenly and prevent unnecessary stress on the knee and the rest of the body.

Summary

To lower the risk of knee injuries in volleyball, it is essential to focus on strength, flexibility, proper warm-up, footwear and knee pads, stability, and biomechanics. Strengthening the legs, improving flexibility and mobility, doing a thorough warm-up, wearing supportive footwear and knee pads, working on stability, and practicing proper technique are all key elements in reducing the chances of knee injuries. By following these six strategies, volleyball players can increase their resilience and enjoyment of the game.

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Remember, prioritize your knee health and take proactive measures to protect yourself from potential injuries. Enjoy your volleyball experience to the fullest!