Injury Prevention for Your Weekend Workouts
Your Guide to Avoiding the ER
Survive Any Injury—and Bounce Back Stronger
Wrist or Elbow Fracture
Achilles Tendon Rupture
Case study: 34-year-old male presents with intense pain and significant swelling of right knee. Subject was playing soccer when he heard a loud pop after pivoting on right foot while dribbling past a defender. Suspected right ACL tear.
A tear of the knee's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), like all ligament injuries, is distressingly prevalent among weekend warriors. The guy who's deskbound all week often doesn't have the conditioning, come Saturday, to execute the quick start-stop movements that soccer, skiing, football, and basketball require. He pivots in one direction while his lower leg keeps moving in the other, tearing his knee's stabilizing ACL.
Hang with me for a quick anatomy lesson. Four primary ligaments hold together the bones that meet at the knee: The two collateral ligaments (on either side of the knee) check the knee's sideways motion, and the two cruciate ligaments (inside the joint) control back-and-forth movement. ("Anterior" means "at the front"; the PCL, or posterior cruciate ligament, is—you guessed it—at the back.) Any direct contact to the knee or rapid change in direction can stretch and even tear these ligaments. At best, you're benched for months. At worst, as in a Grade III tear, a ligament snaps clean through and often needs surgical repair.
Brace your knee. Create a brace of sturdy quads, hamstrings, and calves using a leg-targeted lifting routine that includes squats, lunges, leg presses, and the hamstring exercises described above. Hop to it. Use jump squats to combine muscle building with balance and coordination training. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands out, and elbows angled 90 degrees, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Explode upward, driving your arms up. Land softly on both feet, making sure your knees don't bow inward. Rest for a couple of seconds, and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.