Overuse Knee Injuries Affecting Gymnasts
There are 3 main overuse injuries affecting gymnast’s knees:
The great thing about these three conditions is they are all caused by the same thing:
Growing, incorrect position of the knees during landing, and a quadriceps muscle over use.
In gyms and meets, the one thing I’ve found to help gymnasts instantly decrease pain from overuse injuries of the knee is KT Tape. This case study is a classic example: Julia’s Relief of Osgood-Schlatters Pain After 4 Excruciating Years.
The great thing about KT Tape is it’s incredibly easy to apply for these conditions. It will take 1 minute to apply the tape, and if you use KT Tape Pro, it will last for 1 week!
Learning Landing Position Is The LIFETIME FIX
Females are 4-10 times more likely to experience a non-contact ACL injury than their male counterparts. Learning to land properly is not a joke, and it is the difference in gymnasts between longevity and career ending/life altering injury.
Here are the basics of landing according to Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:
- Land as softly as possible using muscles, not joints to absorb forces
- Land toes, balls of feet, heels, keeping weight forward and over entire feet
- Shift gluteal region posterior (back) and keep the knees behind toes (“butt out” position)
Here is a great example from the toes contacting the ground back into the proper position. Most athlete’s will need to land with arms to the front as an overhead position of the arms requires intense core strength:
Learning the landing cycle takes time and development of core strength. Gymnast Care begins teaching athletes in this cycle:
- Proper Squat. The squat is the basis of all athletic endeavors
- Proper Landing Position. Toe, ball of feet, heels, back into a mini squat as seen above.
- Stress of Landing Position. We begin with a small hop and progressively stress this position until it is done without thinking and by habit.
Pain of the Patellar ligament/tendon complex
Inflammation and irritation of the tibial tuberosity.
Inflammation and irritation of the growth plate in the patella.