Healthy Weight For A 14 Year Old Female 5 2 The Female Athlete’s Knees – 15 Rules For Knee Care

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The Female Athlete’s Knees – 15 Rules For Knee Care

Knee injuries account for one quarter of all sports injuries. After puberty, girls have an overall risk of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) knee injury of 1 in 50. In college, women are 3 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared to men. So, it is very important for female athletes to act now to protect their knees. Whether you’re a walker, a competitive athlete or a weekend cyclist, the basic rules of knee care apply. They include strengthening muscles, (especially the hamstrings and glutes for girls/women) increasing flexibility, using proper technique, trimming excess pounds and knowing when to increase or decrease activity that puts stress on the knee. This article lists 15 ways to protect the knees and joint structure along with providing basic exercises to strengthen and stretch the body’s largest joint and surrounding musculature.

15 Rules for Knee Care:

1. Train with a female specific, functional training program especially for pivotal sports.

2. Work with a strength coach who stays abreast of training issues unique to the female athlete, especially, ACL injury prevention strategies.

3. Shed extra kilos and maintain an ideal body weight. Every extra pound you carry puts four extra pounds of pressure on your knee when you walk.

4. Check your posture. You may have kyphosis (rounded shoulders), lordosis (swayed back), scoliosis (curvature of the spine), flat feet, or other postural problems that can affect walking and put extra stress on the knees.

5. Train the core, the weakest link in the body. Also train the back and hips to play in an athletic stance, the knee-guard position.

6. Prepare properly for your sport. Begin a strength and conditioning program 8-10 weeks before your season or new activity. Make sure plyometrics and balance and agility training are part of your overall program. Avoid actions such as full squats, where the hips drop below the knees, running down and climbing stairs two at a time.

7. Learn how to jump and land correctly. Jump straight as an arrow and land light as a feather, toes to heels with hips, knees and ankles bent. Maintain a straight back-neutral spine position. Support chest over knees and knees over feet. Land on the ball of your foot and sink into your heel. Always do jump training exercises on the appropriate surface, examples: landing on mats or a wooden floor.

8. Always be aware of using impeccable technique when training, especially with jump training.

9. Train functionally for improved performance and injury prevention. Functional meaning, closed chain (feet on the floor) activities that mimic the skills you would use in your sport. Most of your training should be done from exercise machines. Start with bodyweight activities and then progress to outdoor light resistance exercises. Once form is mastered with basic functional training, then progress to more advanced forms of strength training, e.g. using heavier weights or training with the Olympic lifts.

10. Improve agility and reaction times. Women contract their muscles more slowly than men and women take longer to generate maximum force. Train more like tennis players. They stay in an athletic stance, they stay low and move with smaller, faster steps. They also know how to stop, cut, twist and turn. You don’t see many female tennis players tearing their ACL.

11. Strengthen the hamstrings, not just the quadriceps. The hamstrings (back of the thigh) are usually weaker than the quad in female athletes. The hamstrings help stabilize the ACL and can also help improve the vertical jump.

12. Beware of overtraining and overuse. Avoid intensified or extended workouts for long periods of time, which create additional friction in the joint and increase the risk of overuse injury.

13. Minimize stress on the knee while cycling. Make sure the seat of your bike is at the proper height and avoid high speeds.

14. Check your athletic shoes. Worn out or improperly fitting shoes can put knees at risk. Outside of your workouts, avoid wearing high heels regularly.

15. Seek enrollment assistance. Orthotics, custom-made foot supports, can help correct foot or leg alignment problems.

Do exercises that strengthen the knee Do these exercises to strengthen the muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes) that help stabilize and protect the knees:

1. One-leg, one-quarter push-ups: Holding onto a wall, lift and extend one leg forward, slowly lower yourself a quarter of the way down by bending the other knee. Take the hip back as if to sit in a chair. Hold for five seconds, slowly straighten, repeat 10 times and switch legs.

2. Straight legs rise: Lie on your back, bend one knee with your foot on the floor; slowly raise straight leg about 12 inches off the floor, keeping hips, lower back on floor; hold for five seconds, then lower slowly; repeat 10 times, then switch legs (add light ankle weights if comfortable, avoid this exercise if you have back problems).

3. Standing Squats: This exercise is proven to increase vertical jump and help create a contraction of the quadriceps and hamstrings. Stand with your feet hip width apart. Descend into a squat with hips moving back as if to sit in a chair. Knees should stay in line with the feet, no “wobbly” knees. Avoid excessive front bending, keep the chest up and look straight ahead. It is important to keep the heels on the floor and not let the knees stick out in front of the toes.

4. Lunges: Stand right, feet together, hands out to the sides. Take a comfortable forward push with one leg, keep a knee over the foot and behind the toes. Sit in the lunge until the knee of the back leg almost touches the floor. Keep the torso upright, the chest up and the chin up. Push off heel of lead leg to rise and step back to starting position and then repeat action with other leg.

5. Stability ball leg curls: This exercise is great for strengthening the hamstrings. Lie flat on your back on an exercise mat, with hands and arms down at your sides, place both heels directly on the stability ball. Make sure the stability ball fits your height. Lift hips off the floor until body forms a straight line from head to ankles. Do a leg curl, bringing ball into buttocks, return to starting position and then repeat. Keep the hips up the entire time for 12-15 repetitions. Do 1-3 sets.

Stretches for the Quadriceps and Hamstrings:

1. Standing quad stretch: Standing straight, reach for the right hand and pull the heel of the right foot up to the butt. Keep the right knee pointed straight down. Hold for 20-30 seconds, switch legs. No rebound.

2. Standing hamstring strain: Stand facing an exercise bench, place the heel of one leg on top of the bench. Keep both knees soft, (slight knee bend). Bend at the hip, keep your chest up and reach up to your toes with both hands. Hold for 20-30 seconds, switch legs. No rebound.

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