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Common Knee Injuries With Weight Lifting And How to Address Them

Common Knee Injuries With Weight Lifting And How to Address Them

For weightlifters, the knee is arguably the biggest problem area after the back when it comes to dealing with injuries. Most knee injuries show up out of nowhere while some can creep up over a period of time. In either case, certain precautionary measures can help you address these problems and prevent from reoccurring in future.

Five Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

1. Bump up the warm up: Heavy weightlifters don’t like to warm-up, but it can exponentially decrease the chances of an injury. Moreover, if you had knee problems in the past, be careful when doing cardio. Prefer elliptical or exercise bike instead of the treadmill. Also, doing leg extension and leg press with light weights and slow, controlled reps before lifting heavy weights will ensure your knees are ready for the thrashing.

2. Don’t train when in pain: Let the pain be your guide. This is a no-brainer but often gets overlooked. Training through the pain is always an uphill battle. Even if you seem to be winning it initially, it comes back to bite you in the “knee,” eventually.

3. Workout with proper form: Incorrect form is the biggest culprit behind knee injuries. Don’t perform any exercise that you’re unsure about until you consult with a personal trainer or physician. When squatting, don’t let your knees go forward as you descend. When ascending, push off with your heels and not your toes. Avoid locking out your knees when doing any leg exercises (seated leg extension and stiff-legged deadlifts may be the only exceptions).

4. Don’t lift more than you can handle: If you can’t complete the full range of motion for the exercise, you’re most likely lifting more weight than you should.

5. Use braces when necessary: While it’s a matter of debate that how useful braces are to prevent knee injuries, but they can be priceless for those who had injuries in the past. Refer here to see knee braces for a torn ACL and how they work. If you never had any injuries, you may also consider knee wraps which have been a mainstay for the professional powerlifters.

Quick overview of knee anatomy

Understanding the anatomy of the knee can help avoid injuries. The knee is composed of bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, bursa, adipose tissue, and articular cartilage. It works like a door hinge between your two other major muscles feet and hips. But unlike a hinge, it doesn’t have a fixed axis – instead it allows movement with a complicated combination of gliding and rotation of bones ligaments, muscle, and tendons, with the articulating parts always changing.

Three common knee injuries

1. Ligament sprains and tears

One of the most dangerous knee injuries is ligament sprains. They are sudden, accompanied by a distinctive snap or pop, and can cause immense pain and damage. Usually caused by a sharp jarring motion, they are divided into three categories: Grade 1 is the least severe and is only the ligaments getting overstretched but no tear, Grade 2 is over-stretching and minor tearing, while Grade 3 is the most severe and is a full rupture of the ligament.

More common in sports that involve rapid lateral motions, heavy weight lifters can also experience ligament tears. Those who have had ACL or MCL tears in the past should use braces since they’re at a higher risk of getting injured again. If you believe that you’ve torn your knee ligaments, seek immediate help from an orthopedic specialist. Recovery exercises should be done under the supervision of a physical therapist.

2. Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

The fibrous tissue that runs outside the leg, all the way from hip to the shin, is called the iliotibial. When an excessive amount of pressure is exerted on the tissue suddenly, it can irritate the band, leading to the IT band syndrome. The main symptom of IT band syndrome is a burning sensation outside or just above the knee. If not handled correctly, the tissues can get torn and may eventually require surgery.

Since IT band syndrome is caused by a sudden pressure on the tissue, the proper warm-up can reduce the chances of its occurrence. The R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method is very useful in rehabilitating a body with IT band syndrome. Post-workout stretching exercises that involve hip flexes and outside muscles and tissues of the legs can be very effective in rehab.

3. Chondromalacia

Another knee injury common in weightlifters is chondromalacia. It’s caused by excessive wear and tear of the cartilage posterior to the patella. The problem is more common in young adults and especially women, as their hip bones are further apart from the knee joints, causing kneecaps to point outward. People who have chondromalacia will often feel pain and hear a cracking or popping sound inside the knee, after sitting idle for a while.

Chondromalacia can be treated with the R.I.C.E method, along with stretching exercises. However, since this condition is usually caused by lunges or squats, avoid these exercises during the recovery period. Deep tissue massage and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine can help relieve the pain and burning sensation.

These are only three of the many knee injuries that can not only put a stop to your workout and progress but also cause lots of pain and cost in terms of medical bills. Prioritizing warm-ups and proper technique, however, can significantly help in preventing injury.

Author: Joe Fleming

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