Exercise Education services offered in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA and Tempe, AZ
For patients who love playing tennis, taking long bike rides, hiking, or skiing in winter, knee pain is a common issue. Active athletes who play demanding sports like soccer and basketball may also experience regular discomfort in the knees. Working with an exercise specialist will not only help prevent injuries, it can also improve performance in athletic activities.
That’s why the physical therapists at Reflex Knee Specialists offer an exercise education program to help active individuals protect their joints and reduce wear and tear. Our physical therapy team works one-on-one to educate patients and integrate proactive exercises and other practices into their routines to optimize knee function and overall joint stability and health. The team at Reflex Knee Specialists offers a wide range of conservative, non-invasive treatments for knee pain and injuries at our locations in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona.
Risk Factors for Knee Injuries
Certain individuals are more susceptible to joint injuries than others. For instance, avid runners and those who play sports regularly or enjoy activities like mountain biking or downhill skiing are at risk of knee sprains, strains, and more.
Knee injuries can be caused by:
- Incorrect training practices or techniques
- Using the wrong footwear or other athletic gear
- Insufficient warmup or stretching before exercising or playing sports
- Asymmetric movement and compensation patterns (which patients are usually unaware of)
Many knee injuries happen during activities that require quick pivots or twisting motions, like basketball or soccer. Other injuries can occur from a direct hit to the knee joint, such as during a football tackle.
Age is a major risk factor for knee injuries. As patients grow older, the cartilage that cushions the knee joints and absorbs impact begins to weaken and break down. This process is accelerated in individuals with knee osteoarthritis, due to the chronic inflammation inside the joint.
Injuries that Exercise Education Can Help Prevent
The team at Reflex Knee Specialists uses exercise education as a form of preventive care to reduce the risk and severity of different knee injuries and conditions, including:
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
The ACL is a ligament that connects the tibia (shin bone) to the femur (thigh bone) and helps to stabilize the knee joint. ACL injuries often happen when an athlete quickly changes directions or lands hard on their knee. Their knee may swell up quickly and become painful, and it often feels unstable. Once someone strains or tears their ACL, there is a high risk of repeat injury.
Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Strain
The LCL is a strong band of supporting tissue along the outside of the knee that helps stabilize the joint. LCL strains usually happen during an accident, fall, or while playing sports like football or soccer. After a strain or partial LCL tear, a patient will typically notice pain and swelling over the outside aspect of the knee. The joint may lock or catch. If the nerve near the LCL is affected, the patient might feel numbness or weakness in their foot.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Strain
The MCL is the stabilizing ligament located along the inside of the knee. Sharp twisting motions or a sudden blow to the knee can damage the ligament. MCL injuries usually happen during a direct blow to the outside of the knee, which most often occurs in contact sports. Symptoms of an MCL strain can include swelling, tenderness, and pain on the inner side of the knee. When the injury happens, the athlete may feel a pop or snap in the joint.
Once a patient injures their knee, they are much more likely to develop arthritis in the joint several years later. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis is a very common type of arthritis that often develops in the knee after major trauma, such as an ACL or meniscal tear. Usually, joint damage from post-traumatic osteoarthritis develops slowly over time, and symptoms are minimal in the early stages. In fact, 40% of patients who have irreversible structural damage report having no symptoms. This is why comprehensive knee assessments are recommended for prior and current athletes, and for anyone who has had an ACL or meniscal injury.
Any tendon can become inflamed and painful, usually because of repetitive stress on the joint. Tendinitis is a common source of chronic knee pain, especially among athletes who frequently use jumping motions, like basketball and volleyball players. Hence, knee tendinitis is sometimes referred to as jumper’s knee. A patient with tendinitis may experience pain when bending or straightening the leg, and pain may increase with running or walking.
The patellar tendon connects the bottom of the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone). A partial or complete tear can occur because of a fall or a severe blow to the knee. Symptoms of a tendon tear can include bruising, cramping, and difficulty walking. A complete tear will cause the kneecap to move upward toward the thigh.
What to Expect During an Appointment
Exercise education at Reflex Knee Specialists is tailored to the patient’s needs. Our physical therapists consider the following factors:
- Activity level
- Overall health
- Prior injuries
- Patient goals
During the initial appointment, the physical therapist will review the patient’s medical history and current activities, as well as answer any questions they may have. Different techniques will be reviewed with you, such as the proper stance or posture when playing a sport to minimize stress on the knee joints.
Our therapists will also review warmup and cooldown routines to teach patients how to properly stretch their muscles and tendons. As an added benefit, the team at Reflex Knee Specialists also provides stretching and exercise videos that patients can continue to use at home to maintain flexibility and range of motion in their knee joints.
Some sports require specific footwear or safety equipment. Our exercise specialists may recommend different types of protective gear or check to make sure the patient’s current footwear fits properly to minimize the risk of injury.
Benefits of Exercises for Knee Pain
Exercise education is not just for serious athletes. Anyone with an active lifestyle can benefit. The benefits of exercise education include:
- Less Pain
- Improved Function
- Enhanced form and technique
- More effective warmups
- Fewer injuries
Patients participating in competitive sporting events like marathons or triathlons should take a proactive approach to exercise education. This practice can make it possible to keep doing the activities they love and stay healthy.
Choose Reflex Knee Specialists for Preventive Care
At Reflex Knee Specialists, our team of experienced providers focuses exclusively on non-surgical interventions to keep the knee joints healthy. Whether individuals are worried about osteoarthritis or need help managing an old sports injury, Reflex Knee Specialists can help. Our providers take an integrative approach to joint health, offering a wide range of treatments from physical therapy to viscosupplementation.
Schedule a Consultation with a Knee Specialist Today
Most patients can improve their quality of life and get back to the activities they love without surgery. The team at Reflex Knee Specialists provides personalized care plans and education so their patients are informed about non-surgical treatment options. They have offices in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington, and Tempe, Arizona, and accept Medicare and a variety of other insurance plans. Through a comprehensive knee evaluation, our specialists help patients address a variety of issues and make informed decisions. For cutting-edge knee care