A knee injury could cut short a baseball player’s season – or career. In order to keep knee pain and damage at bay, you must maintain your overall health and regularly perform exercises targeting the knees. In addition, knee braces can offer a boost when it comes to preventing knee injury.
A healthy diet and rigorous workout regimen will keep off excess weight, and that’s important for your knees. When you’re carrying around extra flab, you’re increasing the daily strain on your knees, and you also become a likelier candidate for osteoarthritis.
Try walking or swimming thirty minutes a day. Not only will this routine keep you in good cardiovascular health, but these exercises are gentle on the knees. Without regular exercise, the body becomes weaker in general, and a weaker body increases the chances of injury to any of your joints, including the knees.
Consult a trainer to learn which kinds of exercise machines are low-impact for the knees. For instance, a rowing machine not only works various muscle groups, but also takes it easy on the knees.
Include in your workouts exercises specifically for your knees. Now, “knee exercises” don’t work the knees themselves; they work the muscles surrounding the patella (kneecap), muscles supporting the knees and keeping them in proper alignment.
Many knee exercises exist. Squats, with free weights in your hands, are a perfect example. Make sure your squats are controlled, though, and slowly build yourself up in terms of the weight you hold and the number of squats you do in a session.
A second helpful knee exercise is the knee circle. Knee circles involve standing with your feet just below your hips, and a block – like a yoga block – between your knees. Move your knees in circular patterns, keeping the hips still. Each circle represents a repetition; perform sets of 5 to 10 reps.
Another tool for fighting knee pain is the knee brace.
Knee braces come in two major categories. A functional knee brace is designed for a patient suffering from knee damage, like a torn ligament. In such a case, the brace takes over the functions of the part of the knee that’s been harmed, so that the patient may move his/her leg naturally.
The other kind of knee brace is the prophylactic knee brace. The word “prophylactic” means “preventative”: the name of this brace refers to the fact that it helps prevent knee injuries. As an interesting aside, NFL players helped spread public awareness of prophylactic knee braces decades ago, when they started using them.
Studies have indicated that prophylactic braces especially help athletes avoid injury of the MCL, or the medial collateral ligament, an important ligament for knee stabilization. So long as a medical professional has approved the fit of your prophylactic knee brace, it should be completely safe to use. It’s also critical to follow your doctor’s instructions for cleaning and maintaining your brace.