How can Physiotherapy Help with Knee Pain and Knee Injuries?

The knee is a complex joint and the largest in the human body; being made up of two joints, ligaments, bones and muscles. The upper and lower bones of the knee are separated by two discs, often known as ‘menisci’. The bones above and below the knee are connected by a selection of ligaments, tendons and muscles. Supporting this, the joint is covered by articular cartilage which absorbs shock and provides a smooth gliding surface for joint movement. This complexity allows us to have full movement and mobility in our legs, as well as participating in vigorous exercises that push the limits of the body.

 

If the knee gets injured, it can have an adverse effect on other parts of your body, potentially causing additional injuries. These injuries are likely to occur in the leg due to the connection of the muscles and ligaments.  

 

What Sort Of Knee Injuries Can You Get?

There are many types of injuries that you can obtain through overuse, work-related tasks, sports/recreational activities or home tasks. It’s likely that at some point in your life, you’ll experience some form of knee injury whether that be a minor injury or a major one. It’s most common to get an acute injury perhaps from twisting, bending or falling on the knee; during this nerves or blood vessels may be pinched or damaged resulting in the lower leg feeling numb and tingly.

 

Acute injuries can include the following:

 

  1. Sprains and strains
  2. A tear in the meniscus (cartilage between the femur and tibia)
  3. Kneecap or knee joint dislocation
  4. Ligament tears – ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) or MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament)
  5. Breaks

 

These injuries can occur due to either a weakened knee, sudden injury or by an underlying condition such as arthritis. The injury will vary depending upon the cause and as a result, so will the treatment. Should you find that your knee has been causing you a significant amount of discomfort, get in touch with a physiotherapist in Cambridge today for a diagnosis.

 

Overuse of the knee can occur due to repeated, prolonged pressure on the knee or repetitive activities such as stair climbing, jogging or jumping. Each of these has a large impact on the knee and causes stress in the joints and surrounding tissue; leading to inflammation.

 

Injuries caused by overusing the knee are as follows:

 

  1. Tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons)
  2. Plica Syndrome (thickening/folding of the knee ligaments)
  3. Bursitis (inflammation of the sacs of fluid that cushion and lubricate the knee)
  4. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (pain in the front of the knee caused by overuse, excess weight or problems in the kneecap)
  5. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (inflammation of the band of fibrosis tissue running down the outside of the thigh)

 

A UK Physio trained physiotherapist will take a full history of your knee pain, followed by a comprehensive physical examination. This will help to form an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan which may consist of strengthening exercises to address muscle imbalances, soft tissue therapy, taping, or joint mobilisations. If you’re looking for physio in Cambridge to help improve your knee injury, then get in touch with UK Physio and speak to one of our professionally trained physiotherapists today.

 

How Does Physiotherapy Help Knee Injuries?

So, the real question is, how can physiotherapy help prevent knee injuries? The answer is simple – there are many ways it can help reduce pain and improve the condition of a knee injury.

 

Getting physiotherapy on your knee can have a significant impact on pain reduction. During a physiotherapy session, your therapist may carry out some massage techniques. During this, endorphins are naturally released into the body to help minimise the discomfort in the knee. As the muscles and tendons around the knee are manipulated, any congestion of metabolic irritants is reduced allowing the muscles to relax. Furthermore, this eliminates the pressure upon the knee and enables the pain to be relinquished.

 

Engaging in regular physiotherapy sessions will not only help reduce pain, but it will improve the mobility of the knee and flexibility of the leg. With overuse or participation in a strenuous physical activity, the muscles in the knee will begin to seize up and become stiff. Typically, this will result in an injury such as a sprain/strain or ligament injury. Physiotherapy from an experienced physiotherapist will relieve this stiffness in the knee as the tension in muscles is released, and they begin to relax, limiting the stress upon the joints in the knee.

 

Finally, physiotherapy on your knee will help you in rebuilding the muscle around the joints. The muscles in the knee need to be strong as they will be assisting the support of the tendons, ligaments and kneecap. Weak muscles will result in lower amounts of support, which in turn, can result in further injuries to the knee or leg. By manipulating the muscles through massage, it causes them to soften and loosen up. With the muscles soft and relaxed, this is the best time to carry out gentle exercises on the knee to help rebuild the damaged tissue. From doing this, the knee will be strengthened, improving the condition of the initial injury. As well as this, it will help avoid further injury in future, as long as the treatment is respectfully continued.

 

How Regularly Should You Have Physiotherapy?

There isn’t necessarily a specific time frame in which you should be having physiotherapy. However, if you find that you are struggling with recurring muscle or joint pains, or need assistance rehabilitating from an injury, then a schedule should be made with your physiotherapist. Commonly, every four to six weeks is a reasonable interval between each appointment. However, bear in mind that the regularity in which you have physiotherapy will vary based on the seriousness of the injury. For a professionally recommended schedule, get in touch with a physiotherapist in Cambridge for an initial assessment and a specific treatment plan for your injury.

Summary

Overall, physiotherapy is incredibly beneficial for knee injuries. The manipulation of the muscles, tendons and tissues allows the pressure on the knee to be released as the muscles soften and relax. With sudden, acute injuries such as a sprain or ligament damage, physiotherapy will assist with the rehabilitation of the damage. Additionally, injuries caused through overuse could benefit from a course of physiotherapy sessions to provide the knee with time to rest and recover, as well as time to rebuild the strength of the damaged muscles and ligaments.

Get in touch with a physiotherapist in Cambridge for an expert analysis today!

How To Prevent Sports Injuries

Sports are a huge part of our lives. Whether you are an elite athlete or recreational participant, sport can bring many benefits, not only from the physical activity itself but also the social benefits of meeting with friends and the comradery sport can bring. Our physiotherapist in Cambridge will treat your sporting injuries and show you the best ways to avoid them. 

 

Although we have outlined the many benefits of sport, it is important to recognise that sport does involve many risks to injuring our bodies. Some of these risks include direct trauma from the sport itself, injury from not preparing for exercise and warming up correctly, risks from not being in the physical shape and condition for the sporting demands placed on the body, or incorrect or poorly fitting equipment and clothing increasing the risks of being injured.

 

Some of the above risks are out of our control when playing sport, such as getting injured from a tackle in football. However, there are some things in our control to help mitigate the risk of getting injured due to how we prepare for playing a sport which is outlined below:

 

Before Exercising

Before commencing exercise, there are some key principles that are recommended to help us prepare our body for exercising and the demands it will place on our bodies.

 

Below are some recommended ways to warm up before participating in your sport.

 

Warm-Up

The main aim of a warm-up is to prepare your body for the sport by means of increasing the body temperature and the heart rate, which both serve to increase blood flow to the muscles. A thorough warm-up should be progressive in intensity and be sports specific and will include a mixture of cardiovascular drills, static stretching progressing to dynamic stretching and then higher intensity sport specific drills.

 

Stretching

Static stretching alone is not recommended as a preparation for exercise without incorporating a warm-up for the muscles prior to stretching. It is more important that the stretching is functional to the demands of the sport and is therefore dynamic in nature. This type of stretching not only improves joint flexibility but improves the body’s readiness for exercise.

 

Maintain Fitness

If you’re an active person who takes part in a specific sport on a regular basis, it is highly beneficial to maintain your fitness outside of the sport. This can be achieved by a conditioning exercise either with weights, circuit training or aerobic cardiovascular training. This will improve your strength, endurance and most importantly, it will improve your capability for exercising and competing in your sport.

 

By building up your muscles you’re not only improving your physical strength, but you are developing your physical ability. Muscles will protect joints to prevent them from getting damaged. For example, building up the muscle around your knee will help make the joint stronger and cushion any impact upon the knee, such as falling or landing heavily on one foot.

 

During Exercise

Even though you’re exercising, there are still areas that you need to bear in mind to ensure that you don’t damage your body.

 

Stay Hydrated

An athlete’s performance will be seriously affected by dehydration, therefore keeping our bodies hydrated before, during and post-exercise is of crucial importance. A lack of fluid during a sporting exercise results in your body having to work harder in order to perform. Negative repercussions can occur such as overheating. With minimal water in our systems, our body will struggle to produce sweat to cool us down; further resulting in us overheating.

 

Wearing the Correct Equipment and Clothing

Wearing the appropriate equipment and clothing when participating in a sporting activity will help to reduce the risk of injury. This can be as simple as wearing the correct shoes for the sport and replacing when worn, to having the correct protective padding for cricket. It is of vital importance that we check our footwear for signs of wear and tear and replace any worn footwear, clothing equipment or sporting equipment that could be faulty. These factors can not only limit our sporting performance but also increase the risk of injury to ourselves and others.

 

Know Your Limits

When taking up a sport or physical activity, it is always good to understand your limits. Taking up a sport not knowing what your physical limitations are can have repercussions later down the line when your body starts to struggle to keep up with you. Forcing your body to do something it physically can’t, may result in injuries such as pulling or straining muscles. It is also worth noting that if you haven’t undertaken a strenuous activity for a while, that you will need to get back into it slowly. This is necessary because you will need to build up your strength and stamina again to be able to cope with the physical pressures the sport demands.

 

Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks during exercise will give your body and mind the time to relax. During exercise our bodies naturally get tired, but the key is to notice when your body has had enough. Our minds are incredibly strong and will always fight and encourage us to do more; however, it is important that you listen to what your body is saying and exercise accordingly. When our bodies reach the point of physical exhaustion, our minds will continue to push the body to perform. At this stage, the body is vulnerable to injury. Make sure you take a break to rest your mind and body.

 

After Exercise

At the end of a session, there are a couple of factors that should be taken into account. The cooldown after exercise is just as important as the warm-up yet most people skip by it.

 

Cool Down Stretch

A proper cool-down will involve a mixture of gentle cardiovascular drills as well as gentle stretching. Stretching after exercising allows your muscles to relax and reduces muscle soreness, though it is important not to stretch to the full range after strenuous exercise as this risks further damaging the muscle fibres that have been exerted during the sporting activity. For those who are more ardent athletic competitors wanting to go the extra mile to help our bodies recover after exercise, an ice bath can be just the ticket. Ice bathing works to reduce inflammation caused by micro-trauma in the muscle fibres during strenuous exercise causing the blood vessels to constrict and aid healing. This type of recovery is known as Cryotherapy. Applying ice to the injured part of the body can help the healing process of any acute injuries or traumas an athlete has obtained from a sport.

 

Rest Days

Taking at least one day off a week from exercise is essential to give your body the opportunity to recover from a strenuous exercise. This actually benefits you both physically and mentally. Constantly doing something stops your mind from relaxing and can make you stressed without realising it. Our bodies need time to recover in order to work to their full potential. So, ensure that you’re resting each week to give your body the chance to rejuvenate. Sports physiotherapy is an excellent way to help your body cool-down and it will provide your muscles with the opportune moment to relax.   

 

Summary

Sports injuries are very common, but there are many ways in which the athlete can help to prevent them. Being conditioned and fit for your sport will help reduce the risk of injury, similarly, having the correct equipment in good working order will do the same. Injury risks can be reduced by adopting a thorough warm-up which is progressive according to the demands of the sport as well as being sports specific with dynamic stretching. Finally, injury risks in sport can be reduced by cooling down properly and how we use our bodies when we are not competing for the rest of the week.

 

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do” – Pele

 

The Benefits Of A Sports Massage

Do you often work out or exercise and find yourself aching? Have you pulled muscles whilst lifting heavy weights? Among other scenarios, these are some of the reasons that individuals may need a sports massage. In this article, we’ll be answering the question ‘What are the benefits of a sports massage?’.

 

What is Sports Massage?

A sports massage is the process of manipulating the muscles, connective tissue and the tendons fascia. It is a form of a deep tissue massage used to relieve the tension and restrictions that can build up as a result of undertaking repetitive and strenuous physical activities. Our physiotherapy clinic in Cambridge has a team of highly skilled professionals, experienced in relieving muscle pain.  

The Benefits

Sports massages are a highly sort after form of sports recovery. The process of the massage enables both the muscle tissue and the connective tissue to relax, reducing pain and muscular tension.

1. Stronger Flow of Blood/Nutrients

Massaging the muscle tissue will stimulate the flow of blood, this massaging movement allows the blood vessels to open and dilate; letting the nutrients to be passed into the bloodstream significantly easier. These intense stroking movements help the flow through both the blood and lymph vessels. As muscles get tight and stiff, they act similarly to a sponge and squeeze blood out, further depriving the tissues of nutrients which can help to repair damaged tissues. The motion of stroking the muscles is an important part of the massage, allowing the damaged area to receive the appropriate nutrients and a healthy supply of oxygen.

2. Reduces Pain

When in pain our body will naturally release endorphins to help minimise any feelings of discomfort. Endorphins are a natural form of pain relief and can also be brought out through massage. By manipulating the muscles, any congestion of metabolic irritants will be reduced as the muscles relax. As well as this, muscle tension will be released, reducing any pain.

3. Promotes Relaxation

Having a good range of movement will help with the relaxation of muscles. Through sports massage, you can increase your range of motion, which in turn will give the muscles the opportunity to relax; providing them with more mobility. A poor range will result in having tight or tense muscles which can result in injury to muscle tissue. To improve this, a sports massage will help to warm up the muscles. Improving not only physical relaxation but mental relaxation too, due to the pain being restricted and drifting away.

4. Reduce Anxiety/Stress

Sports massages aren’t just for physical pain; they also help psychologically. In the brain, endorphins are released by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. Alongside this, neurotransmitters are released which help to reduce anxiety and feelings of stress while also acting as a natural pain reliever and improving your mood.

5. Boosts Performance

A reduction in pain and looser muscles will allow you to have a stronger performance in your specific/chosen field or activity. It’s important to warm up your muscles before exercising as it relaxes them enabling them to become more mobile, allowing a stronger performance and reducing the risk of injury. Relaxing the muscles will offer you the opportunity to strengthen them further optimising your athletic performance.

6. Better Flexibility/Mobility

When exercising or enduring in strenuous activity muscles will tense up and get stiff. Due to this, it is very beneficial to ensure that you stretch the muscles you worked after your activity, giving them the opportunity to relax and ease up.

A massage works similarly to stretching as it will get in deep to the muscle, relaxing and softening it to improve mobility and flexibility.

7. Ease Sticky Bones

Sports massages can help to separate the muscle fibres that may have stuck to each other or to soft tissue that surrounds them. Occasionally, they can also stick to bones which reduces mobility and increases the amount of stiffness in the muscles. An excellent way to ease the stiffness of muscles and stop the muscle fibres sticking is to indulge in a sports massage to mobilise your muscle and soft tissues.

8. Reduces Metabolic Waste

As mentioned earlier, massaging muscles will increase the blood flow. As the blood flow is improved, continuing to massage the damaged area will help remove any metabolic waste products from the tissue. These products could be something such as lactates; removing them, it will help aid the recovery.

9. Fewer Impairments to Muscular Function

By removing the tension in the muscles, it helps to prevent further injuries. Tight muscles are unable to stretch which makes it harder to move freely. With stretched muscles, there is an increase in the blood flow which will enable a better flow of oxygen and nutrients that are essential for a healthy repair of damaged tissues and fibres.    

Indulging in a sports massage will allow you to see if there are any areas of muscle or soft tissue that need attention. Knowing this, the physiotherapist can then help to strengthen the weak area to avoid it from breaking down further.

10. Reduces Muscle Tension

Our bodies will always be there for us, so it’s important that we respect them. If you are a physically active person, you may find that you could benefit from a sports massage. From massaging there will be a reduction in the amount of pain you feel in your muscles, allowing them to loosen and have an increased amount of flexibility.

11. Rehabilitation of an Injury

A massage will help to facilitate an injury. The process and nature of a massage will allow more oxygen to flow to the muscle tissue increasing the mobility. This flow of oxygen will allow the muscle to be nourished with the appropriate nutrients and be free from any knotted tension. Sports massages will help rebuild the strength in weaker muscles and tissues by warming up the muscles. Warming them up will increase mobility and assist in improving muscle flexibility.

12. Improves Your Mood

Massages release endorphins; they are a chemical in the brain that allows you to feel happy. They’re released with other chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. During a massage, the flow of blood is increased enabling it to have a smoother flow. As a result, these chemicals are released into the system allowing you to feel more relaxed and happier.

 

Summary

Overall, sports massages have plenty of benefits both physically and psychologically. It has no niche market, further allowing it to be geared towards everyone. The technique of the massage is adapted to focusing on the areas that are overused from strenuous activities/movements.

 

Physically, a sports massage will promote a smoother flow of blood and nutrients, reduce pain and tension, and assist with the rehabilitation of an injury. This is all done through the process of manipulating the muscles to allow them to soften and relax.

Psychologically, it will benefit you as it helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. This occurs due to endorphins being released into your body, allowing you to feel happy and calm. From this, your mood will have improved as the pain is restricted.

UK Physio Clinics are based in various locations across the United Kingdom. If you need physiotherapy, get in touch with us today.