Start a Knee Routine
By Jesse Wilson, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

      Lying on the ground bewildered, you gaze back up the mountain at the jump that separated you from your snowboard, your goggles and oddly, one glove. Suddenly you feel a twinge of pain in your knee and realize that your session is over, not to mention, possibly your season as well.
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      The first thing to do with a knee injury is to figure out how badly you've been hurt. If there is only the twinge of pain and a little bit of discomfort and swelling, consider yourself lucky. You may only have a grade one sprain. But if there was a "pop" and the knee is swelling, you've probably got a grade 2 or possibly grade 3 sprain.
      What should you do next? Tom Harrer is a licensed physical therapist, professor at the University of Hawaii and a former-professional beach volleyball player. As you can imagine, Tom's no stranger to knee injuries. He says that it's important to understand your options.
      The most common type of injury is the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which can also involve the MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) and Medial Meniscus. Also known as the unholy triad, if you break all three.
      Secondary injuries include an isolated LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament) from a lateral (side) sprain to the knee, or least likely, PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) from hyperextension injury. Knee sprains are categorized as grade one, two or three. Regardless of the type of injury, you can self-treat with RICE (Rest, Ice Compression, Elevation). Immobilize the knee and apply RICE until you can get to a doctor. Or if it's a minor (grade one) sprain, until you can stand comfortably. A grade two or three sprain requires medical attention, so see the doctor for treatment. If its "not that bad," say a grade one, there are some exercises you can do to help you return to the slopes or court, field, ring, beach, dance floor, ect
      Though you should still check with a doctor for his opinion, there are some exercises that will help you recover from grade-one sprains.
      If you've injured your ACL, try hamstring exercises. To build up the muscles that support the lateral knee, performing leg curls with your lower leg rotated inward. The MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) is the ligament on the inner side of the knee. Performing leg curls with the lower leg rotated outward can help strengthen the Semitendinosus and Semimemranosis muscles, which support the inner knee. During your routine, do three sets of fifteen reps. Be sure to rotate the leg the right way. The wrong way can cause the injured ligament to be over-stretched. Do not hyper-extend the knee.
      Strengthen the quadriceps (the thigh muscle) at a 2-to-1 ratio quad to hamstrings. This can be done on the leg extension machine with care to not hyper-extend the knee. Do toe-in toe-out variations so that all sides of the quadriceps are worked. Be sure to rotate from the hip to change the angle of the toe, not the knee or ankle. The foot should always be in a straight line from the knee. Stay away from multi-joint exercises such as squats and leg press until your knee feels better.
      Preventing knee injuries is much better than recovering from them. Assuming that you have no pre-existing injuries, a simple strengthening and stretching routine can do wonders to keeping your knees healthy. There are also a variety of braces out there to give added support to an injured or vulnerable joint.


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