Feeling the Football Frenzy but worried that your knees can't take it?
With all the buzz following the Women’s World Cup and summer rolling in, more people are dusting off their boots, getting out of the house and onto the field for a kick-about. But after long and rainy winter months of evenings inside, some of us can be more susceptible to injuries.
With the high paced nature of football, pre-existing joint injuries, often involving cartilage damage, may be worsened.
Cartilage is the smooth, shock absorbing connective tissue that surrounds the knee joints. Unlike your muscles it doesn’t have a good blood supply, meaning it can’t always heal naturally when damaged. If left untreated this could get worse.
So let’s work on avoiding this damage in the first place.
With all the twists and turns the game demands, your knees have to take up to 20 times your own body weight during a game of football, so strengthening the muscles around your knee joints is very important for both prevention and treatment of cartilage injuries.
It’s essential to build muscles slowly through regimented exercise, especially after long periods of inactivity or injury; Below is an outlined workout to build your quadriceps, calves and other muscles that contribute to a healthy knee.
• Warm Up - Essential to get the blood flowing before stretching, this can consist of a 5 minute brisk walk or a spin on a stationary bike with low resistance.
• Bridges - 3 sets of 10 reps
• Side lying clams - 3 sets of 10 reps on each side. Ensure that your hips don't roll backwards. Keep core tight.
• Side lying 90 lifts - 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.
• Side lying 180 lifts - 3 sets of 10 reps on each side
• Wall Squats - 2 sets of 10 reps. Ensure knees don't go over toes. At the end of the 10th rep, hold for 10 seconds.
Most importantly, make sure none of the exercises you’re doing cause you any pain, aside from any normal muscle soreness of course. If you do find you’ve injured yourself while playing, follow the PRICE steps below before consulting physiotherapist or GP.
• Protection – Ensure your joint is protected from further damage by using a knee brace.
• Rest – Try to use the joint as little as possible for a few days. • Ice – Apply ice wrapped in a towel for 5-10 minutes, removing regularly to avoid ice burns. Repeat every 2-3 hours during the first two or three days to help reduce swelling. • Compression – Bandage the affected area with a cloth bandage or an elasticated tubular bandage available from a pharmacy. • Elevation – Raise and support on a pillow whenever you can to help reduce swelling.