InjureFree Blog

5 Tips for Knee Injury Prevention This Winter Season

With the warmer months behind us and winter break quickly approaching, so are youth sports off-season. This time of year brings celebration and a respite from organized sports - no games or regular practices- a crucial time to maintain off-season fitness. Research shows that athletes who don’t participate in off-season training are significantly more likely to suffer in-season injuries than those who train. 

So, what does this mean for your athlete in the coming chilly months? Fortunately, most of these injuries are preventable. So, whether you’re a coach, parent, trainer, or athlete, read on for evidence-based data to help your athletes stay injury-free this season.

  1. DO warm up before exercise. Incorporate light cardio and dynamic stretches - active, moving stretches that stretch the muscles to their full range of motion. Dynamic stretches are ideal before exercise because they promote blood flow and prep your muscles and ligaments for safe performance.  Aim for a 5-10-minute warm-up and 10-12 repetitions of each exercise (i.e., jumping jacks, walking lunges, arm circles). 
  2. DON’T underestimate the importance of exercise order. Start with large muscle group exercises (squat, leg press) before moving on to smaller muscle group exercises (triceps dip, push-up). Exercises performed early in the workout are done with less fatigue, yielding greater force, higher reps, and greater amount of weights lifted. Best practice is to begin with legs, move onto shoulders and arms, and end with core (sit-ups, bicycles). 
  3. DON’T do the same thing each day. Change up your exercise routine to avoid overuse injuries and overconfidence, which could lead to choosing too heavy a weight, too many repetitions, improper form and a potential injury.
  4. DO cool down post-exercise. Incorporate 5-10 minutes of static stretching - stretches that are held in position for 15-30 seconds. These stretches lengthen muscles and support recovery (i.e., downward dog, butterfly, or seated toe touch).
  5. DO create an exercise diary. Document how your body feels before and after exercise. Notice pain? Rest, restart slowly and progress from there. Learning to listen to your body is the sign of a self-aware athlete!

Finally, remember to seek out evidence-based research surrounding exercise and injury prevention to keep your athletes safe. Click here for more information about off-season training from the Mayo Clinic.



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