CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Corey Flynn, Captain of Canterbury, lies on the field with a knee injury during the Air New Zealand Cup match between Canterbury and Auckland September 30, 2006 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Simon Fergusson/Getty Images)
Weekend warriors: a ounce of prevention for the pounding your body takes
Every weekend athletes of all ages hit the pavement, courts and fields to achieve moments of victory. But sometimes along the way, an athlete may get sidelined. To lessen the chance getting hurt, our fitness experts weighed in on tips for preventing injuries in various sports.
Andrea Metcalf, Anytime Fitness author Naked Fitness
Typically injuries and chronic pain are from weak stabilizing and decelerating muscles including the hamstrings, glutes and vastus medius just above the knee cap on the inside of the leg. Strengthening and maintaining flexibility and range of motion can help manage and prevent knee pain. Try these simple exercises:
1. Single leg stand up - Start with a seat high enough that when seated your knee is below your hip. Lift one leg and stand up using only the other leg. You may hold onto a counter or chair for stability. Perform 12-15 repetitions on one side then repeat on the other. Keep leg lifted throughout the stand up and seating exercise.
2. IT band stretch - The IT band is a layer of connective tissue that runs down the outside of the leg from the outer side of your hip to below your knee, where it attaches to the outer side of your upper shin bone. When this tissue is injured, your knee may hurt. This stretch will help prevent injury. Begin in a standing position. Cross your right leg slightly behind your left leg. Reach your right elbow toward the ceiling. Lean to the side. Hold this position for 10 counts. Then change sides and perform on the other side
3. Hamstring bridge - Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms at your sides. Inhale to prepare and exhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling. Keep your rib cage low and squeeze the backs of your thighs at the top of the lift for two to three counts. Lower to the floor as you inhale and tap the ground with your back- side. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions.
TIP: As you become stronger, add a ball under your feet and lift your hips or add a small, soft ball between your knees to strengthen your inner thighs.
4. Hamstring ball rolls - Lie on the floor with your legs straight on top of a stability ball and your arms at your sides. Inhale and raise your hips up off the floor. Exhale as you roll the ball in toward your hips. Then return to the legs-extended position. Lower your hips and repeat. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions. Even a soccer ball can be used in this exercise.
TIP: As you become stronger, keep your hips lifted between ball rolls.
5. Single leg touch downs - Start standing with one leg lifted. Reach forward with the body and reach the lifted leg back. Touch the ground with the opposite hand of base foot. Return to standing position. Perform 12-15 repetitions on each side.