In an article on CNN’s website, Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist, offers some great advice on how athletes can protect their knees from sports injuries. The preventative technique she recommends focuses on teaching athletes improved awareness of injury risk as well as promoting proper motion patterns and muscle strengthening to minimize injury. This program is called the HarmoKnee Preventative Training program and she summarizes the program as follows -
1. Warm-up: This phase involves jogging, backward jogging on the toes, high-knee skipping and two zigzagging and sliding exercises.
2. Muscle activation: This phase involves four-second contractions of major muscle groups in the lower body, including calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, groin, and hip and lower back muscles to help athletes increase awareness of individual muscle groups.
3. Balance: These exercises, which require careful form — including straight-line hip-knee-foot posture, shoulder-width apart, controlled landing on flexed knees, maintaining a low center of gravity, contraction of stomach and buttocks — should be performed slowly. They include backward and forward, single- and double-leg jumps lasting approximately 30 seconds each.
4. Strength: This phase, which requires similar form to the balance phase, including walking lunges, hamstring curls and single-knee squats with toes raised.
5. Core stability: The final phase also encourages proper form and includes sit-ups, plank on elbows and toes, and bridging (an exercise where your hips are lifted toward the ceiling and the position is held).
Dr. Jampolis notes this summary is just an outline that includes key components of a comprehensive knee injury prevention program and recommends you work with a coach or personal trainer to develop a similar program that works for you.