There are very few downsides to exercising. Between strengthening your body, improving heart health, and bettering mental health, there are so many benefits to hitting the gym or practice field. However, any type of strenuous physical activity also has its risks. One study found that 41% of gym and fitness center users report having suffered some type of injury while exercising.
You don’t have to be part of the 2 in 5 people who suffer exercise-related injuries. By practicing good exercise habits you can prevent knee injuries and keep your health journey focused on improvement, not rehab and physical therapy.
If you’ve suffered a knee injury while exercising, come see the team at Steven E. Nolan, MD. Dr. Nolan is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience and has received numerous top-surgeon awards during his career. Here, he explains how to prevent knee injuries while exercising and how to make sure your workout is safe.
Common knee injuries
Almost every exercise plan involves some cardio, and that means you’ll be putting stress on your knees at some point during your workout. Common knee injuries associated with working out include:
- Joint dislocations
- Torn ligaments (ACL and PCL)
- Stress fractures
- Shin splints
- Cartilage injuries and runner’s knee
- Joint injuries
- Meniscus tears
If you think you may have any of these injuries, come see the team at Steven E. Nolan, MD, for an official diagnosis.
Warm up and cool down
A warm-up helps your body get ready for exercise by gradually increasing your heart rate and loosening up for muscles and joints. A proper warm-up will increase blood flow and relieve stiffness to decrease your chance of injuries like muscle tears. Cooling down after a workout helps your heart rate return to normal and maintains flexibility.
Use the right equipment
Make sure you use proper safety equipment when working out, whether that be goggles, glasses, pads, a mouth guard, or some other protective gear. You should also wear equipment made for the sport or exercise you’re doing — use basketball shoes for pickup games and switch to running shoes when you hit the track. Similarly, don’t use gear that doesn’t fit you properly or is worn out — even your favorite paraphernalia becomes dangerous once it’s useful life is over.
You can overuse your muscles by doing the same workout every day; this is a great way to develop shin splints or tendonitis. Instead, mix things up. If you’re a gym rat, add swimming or outdoor biking to your routine. Runners may want to incorporate more weight-based workouts. Variety gives your muscles time to recover and keeps your exercise mentally stimulating.
Listen to your body
“No pain, no gain” may sound cool, but it’s not the kind of saying you should live by. Exercise as hard as you like, but don’t push through pain just because of your pride. If you do feel pain, back off and give yourself a rest. You can always move to a different exercise or lower the level of your activity.
If you feel serious pain, plan a trip to Steven E. Nolan, MD. Depending on your injury type, you may benefit from conservative treatments, such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation, or you may have a serious condition that requires surgical intervention. Dr. Nolan is an expert in knee arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery method that corrects injuries with less downtime and scarring than open surgery.
To learn more about knee injuries and knee arthroscopy, request an appointment online or over the phone with Steven E. Nolan, MD today.