How to Avoid Tearing Up Your Knees When Tearing Up the Hill

Participating in any sport poses hazards and a risk of injury to the body.  Professional athletes and those who are more than just weekend warriors typically train properly to avoid injury. You might wonder how in the world can you avoid getting hurt? You’re in luck, because this month we are going to teach you some important muscle work to help you avoid a severe knee injury.

Skiing and snowboarding can wreak havoc on the body. Obviously taking a digger can cause a bad injury, but a lot of injuries come from an imbalance in your muscles from being either under-active, over-active or too tight.

To try and prevent an injury is going to take some work on your part.  During the week, before you shred your favorite hill you first need to hydrate! Water is the most important nutrient for the body. Hydration is the key to keep your, brain functioning properly for neuromuscular control, keeps your muscles looser and not allowing toxins to to settle in the tissue.  Dehydration can of course cause cramping, balance issues and we definitely want to avoid that.  A “rule of thumb” for water intake is to take your body weight turn the lbs into ounces and then make sure you are drinking at least half of that number in ounces.  For example, if a person weighs 150lbs then  they would want to drink at least 75oz of water a day.  To be honest though, I, however, like to tell my clients to aim for a gallon (133oz) of water a day. Drinking that much water will keep your metabolism elevated and you will for sure be hydrated!

Another important tool for you to know is self-myofascial release or you might have heard the term “foam rolling”. For this, you will need a few items to work with. You can go to your local gym or you can order your own equipment on-line.  You can google foam roll and find one you like best.  The come in different sizes and densities.  We prefer the 36″ high density, but we like to roll our entire body and we like to bring the pain!  The foam roll will help lengthen out your tight muscles to allow your joints to work properly through its range of motion.  You might be asking why is that important?  Let me explain.

Your muscles are made up of a lot of straight fibers that move together in harmony.  Think of those fibers as uncooked spaghetti and you roll them through your hands and they seem to move as one unit.  Now think about cooked spaghetti. The spaghetti strands seem to bundle up into a knot. That is a lot like our muscles. They should be straight fibers moving together as a perfect unit, but due to mental, physical, or chemical stress on the body your muscles will develop those “knots” or properly known as trigger points. When trigger points plague muscle tissue, then the muscle cannot move properly decreasing the range of motion within a joint and putting excess stress on ligaments and tendons. Tightness and trigger points in certain parts of our quad muscles and glutes can cause knee pain and injuries.  In women, this can be very detrimental due to our “Q” Quadriceps Angle.  The Q Angle is the angle between the outside of the hip to the inside the knee, and is a big reason women have a greater percentage of ACL injuries.  Biomechanically, we as women are made to have a higher prevalence of knee injuries.  We have a wider pelvis and a smaller space in a our knee joint, which poses a problem when the muscle that runs along that same line gets too tight and jumbled up just like the cooked spaghetti, then it causes too much stress on the knee joint and make the joint susceptible to injury.

Foam rolling can be helpful, because it can lengthen out those muscle fibers to look like uncooked spaghetti again.  To attack your IT Band, lie on the side of your leg and use your upper body to move you back and forth along the foam roll.  Make sure you roll from the top of your hip to the knee.  If you find a sore spot, hang out on it for about 30 seconds and then continuing rolling again.

Next lie over the foam roll in the plank position to roll the top part of your thighs and repeat the process. Roll back and forth and hang out longer on the sore spots.

Photo credit: Ronnie Soldano

Photo credit: Ronnie Soldano

Now it’s time to get into those booty cheeks! To foam roll your glutes, sit on the foam roll, cross your ankle on top of your opposite knee, and then dip the knee that is crossed towards the ground. You should feel the foam roll hit the side of your booty cheek.

Last, but certainly not least you will want to roll out your gastrocnemius, also known as your calves.  Place the back of your calves on the foam roll, use your upper body to hold you up, and start rolling back and forth.  Roll through the belly of the calf and then hit the medial and lateral sides. You can get more weight into it, if you cross one leg on top of the other and just roll one leg at a time. Don’t forget to hang out on the spots that are the most sore, until it lightens up, you are about to cry, or 30 seconds, whichever best suits you!

Photo credit: Ronnie Soldano

Photo credit: Ronnie Soldano

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About Alexandria White

I am a personal trainer/ exercise physiotherapist in Boise, Idaho that truly loves to help people! I have a BS Degree in Exercise Science & Kinesiology and I am NASM certified personal trainer. I specialize in pain management, sport specific training and weight management. I have education and experience in every aspect of training, which allows me to help any person who wants to see and feel a positive change in their life. I truly have a servant's heart and I want to guide a client to live the BEST, live the healthiest, live the fittest and live a pain free lifestyle possible! I believe life really is about balance and it’s not cliché to say so. My goal is to inspire you to pursue the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and to utilize fitness as a way of life and not something you have to do. Making changes are not easy, but that’s why I am here to provide you with knowledge, moral support and encouragement along the way to get the life you want, need and deserve!