Minimising injuries in knees & ankles
There are many things we can do to strengthen and muscles and ligaments that support your knees and ankles to help avoid injury.
Maintaining good alignment is one of the key things to keep knees and ankles safe during exercise. Specific muscles tend to weaken and others tighten, which can impact on alignment; so it’s important to isolate those muscles and target them for strengthening.
Strengthening & Lengthening
Postural muscles which control the hip position, such as the lower abdominal muscles and posterior gluteus medius (the muscles running down the outside of your bottom) need to be strong. If they become weak they can impact your posture, causing other muscles to tighten and pull knee joints out of alignment.
The VMO (vastus medialis oblique) is a small part of the quad muscle that sits on the inner side above the knee cap; it also needs to be strong to ensure control and full range of movement of the kneecap.
The ITB (ilio tibial band) of muscles which run down the down of the outside of the thigh and the rectus femoris (the quad muscle that starts above the hip and extends below the knee) are prone to tightness, which affects alignment, so it’s important to lengthen these muscles.
All the muscles around the ankle including the upper and lower calf muscles that attach to the achilles, and those running from the shin down to the inside of the arch (tibialis posterior) and the peroneal muscles on the outside of the lower leg, all need to work together to provide control, strength and stability.
Ultimately it is the timing, patterning and interplay of all these muscle groups that provide good, preventative strength to the legs. Practicing functional and sport specific drills (i.e. FIFA 11+ and netball smart) will help to train the muscles to react quickly and ensure your safety on the court or field.
To help minimize knee injuries the following exercises can be of benefit:
- Small knee bends – with the knee over the middle of the foot
- Single leg squats, moving to lunges and jumping
- Wall squats, leg extensions and leg presses
Netball Smart www.netballnz.co.nz