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Knee Biomechanics

Knee Biomechanics
Knee injuries are common. However, some become more prevalent when participating in sports. Knee injuries can happen when making a sudden change in direction, an awkward landing, direct fall or impact, twisting or when slowing to a sudden stop. The course of treatment for an injury can range from R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and strengthening to surgery, depending on what is needed to allow the knee to function properly and symptoms to resolve.
 
The severity of a knee injury is determined by the structures involved, as well as the activity at the time of the injury. Common injuries include an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, a cartilage (joint surface) or meniscus tear, patellar dislocation or combinations of injuries. An ACL injury can result from a direct blow to the front of the knee causing hyperextension (i.e., over straightening), a non-contact twist with hyperextension, and/or decelerating movements. Symptoms commonly present with an ACL injury include pain along the front of the knee, buckling, instability and swelling.
 
The signs and symptoms of a meniscus or cartilage tear often caused by a side-to-side strain to the knee while twisting, are swelling, catching, locking of the joint, as well as pain along the sides of the knee joint line where the cartilage is located. Patellar dislocation or sublaxation injuries may relate to underlying patallar maltracking issues.
 
Although knee injury is prevalent in the sports environment and at times can require surgical intervention, attention to knee tracking, muscle conditioning and proper biomechanics can help to prevent severe injury. Knee biomechanics incorporate the proper alignment of the knee over the second toe (i.e., the toe adjacent to the big toe) while performing weight-bearing activities like strengthening and landing.
 
During these strengthening exercises, the lower leg should remain vertical to the ground and positioned over the second toe. When doing stairs, lunges, squats, leg press or landings, it's important to maintain a ninety-degree angle at the ankle and the knee. Attention should be placed on avoiding a knock-kneed or bow-legged knee position to prevent abnormal stress and possible injury.
 
Along with the focus on biomechanics, other knee injury prevention techniques include hip abductor strengthening, quadriceps muscle strength balance, and a motion control shoe or insole for flat feet (i.e. excessive pronation).


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