Chronic knee pain is something that most of us experience and want to prevent at all cost. Running or regularly doing high impact exercises (i.e. jumping, burpees, polyometrics, etc.) puts us at even greater risk for knee injury or chronic knee pain.
During my junior year of college, I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in my right knee during basketball practice. Fortunately, I had an awesome orthopedic surgeon (shout out to Dr. Cooper – team doctor for the Dallas Cowboys) to perform my reconstructive surgery. Keyshawn Johnson and I had surgery the same day in same operating room, I felt pretty cool…yeah I’m name droppin’ so what 🙂 Anyway, with diligent physical therapy and lots of mental GRIT, I was able to return to playing my senior year and obviously I’m still able to live very active lifestyle.
(below – pic of me and my battle scar)
However, post my “college athlete” life , I don’t have access to the resources and trainers that I once did, so I have to be really cautious about protecting my knees and preventing any future injuries. Fortunately my therapists and surgeons taught me lots of tips to prevent knee pain and knee injuries so I wanted to share my top 3 tips with you. I hope you find these helpful 🙂
Brit’s Top 3 Tips to Avoid Knee Pain
- Build some leg muscle – This is the single most important tip. Having strong leg muscles provides your knee with the support it needs and takes stress off of the knee-joint. Strong, glutes, hams, quads and calves are critical to preventing knee pain and avoiding injury. Straight leg raises and squats with good form are good exercises. I don’t recommend seated leg extensions because they put a lot of stress on your patellar tendon.
- Never hyper-extend – When I tore my ACL my leg was hyper-extended and then hit by an outside force. When you exercise or play any sports, it’s critical to always keep a soft bend in your knee so that your ligaments have some slack. When your ligaments are fully stretched out, they can tear. And trust me, you don’t want to do that.
- Take a load off – Don’t jump or run EVERY single day. Throw in some spin classes, rowing or hop on an elliptical machine. Low impact exercises will take some pressure off of your knees but still allow you to get high intensity cardio work. The fact of the matter is that continuous pounding is hard on your joints. If you do it long enough, you are prone to chronic knee pain like IT band tendonitis.