Knee Injury Can Prevent Optimal Performance
Condition Your Muscles to Learn How to Prevent Knee Injury
Cheerleading, dance, gymnastics and skating require hard work and demand athletes participating in these sports to exhibit strength, good timing, balance and extreme flexibility. Like other competitive athletes, dancers and cheerleaders should train to build strength and flexibility to prevent injury. A leg muscle or tendon can lead to the most common complaint a sports physician or trainer sees, known as an overuse injury of the knee.
Signs of Overuse Injury of the Knees
If you are a cheerleader or dancer that feels aching in the front of your knees and a sharp pain on the inside of your right or left knee when you jump, you are likely suffering from an overuse injury of the knee. The problem usually occurs after a couple of week of continuous stress on the knees, such as consistent practicing or performance. In some circumstances, overuse and stress on the knees can cause a dancer or cheerleader to refrain from practice or performance until knees are rehabilitated and rested.
Fortunately, you can prevent knee injury by training properly. Strong quadriceps and hamstring muscles assist in stabilizing the kneecap and ligaments that make the knee bend and extend properly. If you incorporate the following exercises in your daily routine, you will help improve your strength and flexibility of your knees. As you engage in these exercises, stretch consistently to increase your flexibility. Never bounce and hold each stretch to the point of resistance, but not pain. Work slowly and keep your breathing steady.
1. Pillow Push
Engage in the pillow push exercise by sitting on the floor with a folded pillow underneath your knee. Tighten your quadriceps muscle by pushing down on the pillow with the back of your knee. Count slowly to five, contracting harder with each count. Rest for a few seconds and continue by doing two sets of ten.
2. Straight Leg Raises
Engage in the straight leg raises by sitting or lying with your legs out in front of you and your knees straight. Lift your leg up a few inches and hold for 15 seconds. Relax and repeat with each leg for a total of three to five minutes. Make sure to perform an equal amount of leg lifts for each leg to promote optimal balance and body symmetry.
3. Bent Leg Resistance
Engage in the bent leg resistance exercise by sitting in a chair high enough so your leg can swing without your foot touching the ground. Attach a five pound ankle weight to your ankle and fully extend your leg. Gradually, bend your knee to complete a full range of motion. Focus on the quad muscle and feel the muscle contract as you extend the leg. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions with each leg.
Prevent knee injury in cheer and dance by becoming a conditioned athlete and engaging in these exercises daily. Recognize that muscle groups in a particular sport need to be trained and properly conditioned. Successful running, jumping and tumbling depend on strong knees and balanced muscle tone.