Realistic Expectations After Total Knee Replacement
High school gymnasiums are alive with energy across eastern NC. In our region, that means one thing: Basketball season is in full swing. As teams get into the latter part of their season, sometimes injuries and fatigue begin to be an issue. Often times, the teams that can have the biggest playoff push are the ones that can stay healthy throughout the season. We think it’s important to help athletes and parents of athletes protect themselves and their children from dangerous injuries during the rigorous season.
Stretching and Strength Building
The knee and the ankle are two of the areas that are most likely to be injured during basketball season Cutting to the rim wrong can result in knee sprains, or even worse torn ligaments. Jumping up for a rebound and coming down on the side of someone’s shoe can create nasty ankle sprains or even breaks. Strengthening these areas with regular stretching and strength building exercises is crucial to maintaining the health of these joints all season long.
- Ankle Curls: With the balls of your feet on the front edge of a step and the back of your foot hanging off the edge, press your body upward and then back down as far as you can comfortably go. Perform ten reps, rest and repeat. Not only does this exercise improve strength in your ankle, it also tones the calf muscle and improves your vertical leap.
- Wall Quad Stretch: Get up against the wall (facing away from the wall) in the bottom of a lunge position. Flip your back foot up against the wall with your toes on the actual surface of the wall. Your back knee is the axis point and really determines how much of a stretch you will get during this exercise. The closer the back knee is to the wall the more of a stretch there will be through the foot, ankle and quads. If you are looking to get a little adventurous and want to stretch the hip flexors out, focus on pushing the hips forward.
- Most leg and hip muscle strengthening exercises have additional benefit for the knees and ankles, so make sure that a regular strength building routine is part of your normal practice schedule as well.
Protect Your Joints
In addition to building the muscle integrity of the knee and ankle, there are additional steps to protect yourself from injuries. Providing additional, artificial support to those areas can help keep the joint stable and less likely to turn or rotate incorrectly.
Traditional knee braces can be big, bulky, and reduce mobility, but low-profile braces provide additional support to the knee and maintain maximum flexibility. Keeping the knee joint covered with a low profile brace is essential for individuals recovering from a knee injury, but should really be considered by most athletes who are looking to maintain a long playing career. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Academy Sports in Greenville both have lots of great options for knee braces, and it’s best to try them on before you buy them to make sure you have the right fit.
Ankle braces are a lot less bulky and provide significant protection from turning or rolling your ankle, leading to sprains and breaks. There are a wide variety of braces that largely depend on the range of mobility you want to retain. Some braces are more rigid and limit range of motion to front and back, while others provide more flexing to the sides. Active Ankle is the gold standard in ankle protection and offers different ankle protection specialized for various sports.
Playing Through the Pain
All to often, athletes feel like in order to demonstrate their loyalty to the team or their ability to be an elite player they need to “play through the pain.” However, it’s important to remember that sometimes playing through the pain can do more harm than good. For younger athletes, injuries require rest. Injuries as innocuous as a sprained ankle can make the ankle joint weak and more susceptible to more serious injury. Most coaches ask their players to consider the rest of the team when they decide to play through an injury. So think about what your team would like more: You playing at 70% and getting more seriously injured, or having you rest a game or two and stay 100% healthy for the remainder of the season.
For more information about injuries and conditions of the knee and ankle, take a look at all of the conditions we treat. We’re the largest orthopaedic practice in the east and are regular fixtures at college and high school games to make sure players receive the proper care they need when the worst happens. If you’re being plagued by knee and ankle pain, consider requesting an appointment to evaluate the severity of your injury. We have several onsite X-Ray machines, a mobile MRI unit and a fully staffed physical therapy department as well.