Avoiding Lower Limb Injuries while Playing Sport
Many lower limb injuries (LLI) can be prevented through a combination of correct training and practicing correct landing technique. Some of these injuries can include Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) injuries or other tendon sprains or tears.
This article covers what you can do to minimise your risk of sustaining a LLI while playing sport.
You should have a written training plan to develop your lower limb muscle strength, especially the minor muscles.
Some of the best exercises to do this in order of difficulty include:
- Two feet jumps with two feet landing
- Two feet jumps with 90degree turn
- Balancing on one foot
- Stationary lunges (remember to keep your weight on the heel of your front foot)
- One foot hopping on the spot
- Single leg squat
- Two feet jumps with one foot landing
- Ensure your warm-up with some of the above exercises prior to every game.
- Purchase a good pair of shoes and replace them before they are completely worn out.
Correct Landing Technique
- Landing with a Bent Knee – to do this requires practice and focus. You want to ensure that when running or stopping, your weight is transferred to the ground smoothly through your front and mid-foot, not your heel. If you hear your feet slapping or thudding the ground, this is an indication that you are landing too hard.
- Knee Stability – you need to ensure your knee does not swing inward or outward on landing. Doing one foot squats with good form in front of a mirror is a good way to build your supporting muscle strength and improve your knee stability.
- Knee Toe Alignment – ensure your toes stay in line with your knees when landing ensuring that the weight is transferred directly through the knee joint without creating any lateral twisting forces. This is easy to spot by getting someone to watch or videotape you hopping along a line.
Remember, creating good form requires repeated practice and external feedback. Do not attempt to progress too quickly.
For a tailored training program, contact a registered sports physician or trainer.