Most Common Muscle Injuries (Part 3 of 7)
By: Marylin Salgado
April 22, 2019
This is part 3 of a 7-part series blog. The focus will be injuries based on the 4 most popular weight lifting exercises:
- Bench Press
- Dead Lifts
- Military Press
Each blog will explain the part of the body affected, how each lift affects that muscle group and recovery time. Each blog will be written in its simplest form so you, the reader, can fully understand the material. This week I will be discussing injury caused to the Knee.
What is the structure and function of the knee?
The knee joint is formed of three bones which allow the knee to move relative to the thigh. It also allows for weight support and the knee joint to support such movements as walking, running and squatting. It is one of the strongest and most important joints in the body.
In addition to the ligaments that support the knee, there are also other structures that support the knee from impact and outside forces. Such structures include adipose tissue or fat, cartilage for smooth articulation between bone and joint, a bursa, or fluid filled sac which protects the knee and joint from friction, and muscles, which although the knee has none, include the ones attached to it like the quadriceps and hamstrings.
Why do injuries occur?
- Improper technique
- Not enough training time
- Not stretching before an exercise
- Ignoring pain or discomfort during a movement or lift
- Not stopping immediately during discomfort or feeling sharp pain
- Changing directions rapidly
- Landing incorrectly from a jump
Most common lifts and knee injury
- Squatter’s knee injury – Squatting is probably one of the most effective exercises for strengthening muscles of your legs and glutes. Just as well, your knees will take a lot of pressure, especially as the weights increase. Squatting with weight and balance unevenly distributed will potentially cause damage to the knee. At least you will feel some discomfort or pain. Squat depth and leg placement, (narrow or wider), will also affect how much impact your knees take during the squat. Always allow time to train and obtain proper technique and balance with a low weight or no weight at all. Then gradually add weights for more challenging squats and more muscle build up. You can also use knee wraps to further protect the knees from injury.
- Bench press – There is really no reason why bench pressing would cause a knee injury other than having incorrect posture and incorrect form. Placing your feet too far back might cause you to stress the weight off your knees while lifting.
- Dead lifts – This is considered a safe exercise for the knees, but considering everyone is built differently, injuries can still occur. While most deadlifts can affect the lower back, improper technique of the lift can definitely hurt the knee. By bouncing the weight off the floor, you can cause tendon sprain or patella (knee cap) displacement. If you are experiencing pain from either the traditional or sumo dead lifts, try one or the other. Each of these lifts works a different part of the knee. Either way, it is important to find your comfort zone with this workout.
- Military Press – The military press can be tricky. It is important to realize you can’t just balance with your knees. A strong core is essential to help balance with your hips. The core is not just your ab muscles, but also associate with the gluts, lower back and hips. A strong core is essential to balance during a movement such as a military press. Remember too that if you want to lift more, you have to strengthen the core as well.
As an add on to this blog, let’s discuss an exercise that greatly impacts the knee:
- Leg press – The leg press can cause injury to the knee as it causes more stress on the knees than on the quads. One very common rookie mistake is locking the knees. Putting your knees together or placing your knees inward or outward when making a movement can also cause pain and more stress on the knees than needed to perform the movement.
Recovering from injury
RICE is one of the most common ways to help speed the healing process for an injured knee. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. There are three different types of knee sprain:
Ligament sprains are graded by the amount of stretching or tearing of the ligament fibers and how much instability it causes as follows:
- Grade 1 knee sprain: The ligament is stretched and painful, but fibers are not torn and no instability is present.
- Grade 2 knee sprain: The ligament fibers are torn partially; mild instability may be evident.
- Grade 3 knee sprain: The ligament fibers are completely torn and the knee is unstable.
And knee dislocation, which can occur during a high impact sport.
Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
The main symptoms of knee injury are as follows:
- Knee pain, heat, swelling or redness
- Difficulty bending the knee
- Difficulty bearing weight
- Clicking or popping sounds
For severe cases or when at home remedies are not enough to heal a knee injury, you may have to visit your PCP or you might be referred to an Orthopedist or Orthopedic Surgeon to review your case and further treat your injury. You might also need physical therapy during this time to speed the healing process.
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