The knees cause problems for many athletes. Nearly every sport engages your legs to a certain degree, which means the knee joints are also engaged. As an athlete, you naturally place more stress on your knees than a non-athlete. Consequently, you can develop knee problems in different ways. Injuries can occur from a fall or collision, as well as from repetitive movements, which result in injuries sustained over a relatively long period of time. Due to the high risk for knee problems, you should take special precautions to keep your knees healthy.
Participate in low-impact sports when possible to reduce the amount of jarring on your knees. Avoid running on hard pavements, playing tennis on concrete, and doing other activities that place lots of stress on the knees, such as mogul skiing. All of these can lead to osteoarthritis, according to Dr. Donald M. Kastenbaum, vice chairman of orthopedic surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Make a special effort to avoid high-impact sports when your primary sport places a lot of stress on your knees. Use the off-season to allow your knees to recuperate and try to engage only in athletic activities that greatly reduce the impact on your joints, such as swimming, elliptical training, bicycle riding and cross-country skiing.
Rest your body as much as possible between athletic activities. Resting means abstaining from physical exercise when it is not necessary. Concentrate on working your upper body if you decide you must exercise between athletic activities. Avoid exercises such as squats, leg extensions, leg presses and lying leg curls.
Apply ice packs to your knees on a regular basis between athletic activity to help keep reduce any pain and swelling from inflammation. Keep the ice pack wrapped in a towel and take it off after 20 minutes.
Fasten a lightweight, breathable and self-adhesive compression wrap around your knees when physically active and when resting to keep fluids from collecting at the knee joint. Don't fasten the compression wrap around the knee too tightly. Ensure the wrap allows for proper circulation in your legs. Use the wraps to encourage stability at the joints and proper knee alignment with the legs.
Keep your feet elevated when possible during rest to keep down swelling and prevent fluids from building up around the knees. Place your legs on a stack of pillows or blankets so that your legs are elevated at an angle that's above your waist. This allows for gravity to effectively drain fluids away from the knees.