Knee pain in adolescent athletes

Knee pain in adolescent athletes

Our children are participating in sports year-round and this may be a cause for increased injuries among adolescent athletes. Unfortunately, along with increased participation comes decreased attention to injury prevention and proper stretching. The hamstrings are a large muscle group on the back of the thigh that are susceptible to tightness due to over activity. Tight hamstrings may cause hip, back and knee pain if ignored. Always seek proper medical attention to determine diagnosis and therapy plan.

Recently, my 9 year old daughter was complaining of bilateral knee pain. I noticed she was limping during her soccer games, but like a good dad I shrugged it off. She began wrapping ice bags on her knees before bed and like a good dad I thought she was over reacting a little. This went on for about a week, and my wife finally asked if we should have her see a doctor friend. Since I have 22 years of treating athletic injuries, I thought maybe it was a good idea to assess her knees.

She really could not pinpoint her pain, but described the pain as “all around the knee”. During the assessment I noticed her hamstrings were extremely tight for a 9 year old girl. I immediately implemented a stretching program and she had relief within a couple of days. We continue to stretch before and after activities, and we taught her to stretch on her own. She continues to participate with no pain and no limp as long as she stretches.

Self stretch vs partner stretch

Part of my job is to show people the appropriate stretches to do on their own. However, in children this becomes difficult, because they simply will not do it. For better results,I recommend helping your child stretch in addition to them stretching on their own. See the video below for ways to help your child stretch.

Inner Hip Strength

The inner thigh often gets ignored in performance and rehab programs for the knee and hip. Here is a simple way to help strengthen the adductor group to help improve recovery and performance.

ACL exercise- lateral hip strength

This exercise can be used to prevent acl injuries as well as to do after injury. Often, our lateral hip is very weak which leads to acl injuries. This simple exercise with a loop will help you strengthen the hips and prevent injuries.

ACL Flexibility

While extension is very important when rehabbing an ACL, knee flexion is also important. Use this easy flexion stretch with a towel to distract the knee joint to help with mobility.

Knee Range of Motion- Medial collateral ligament

The medial collateral ligament is commonly sprained in sports. Keeping the knee from losing mobility is critical in the healing process. Try this simple range of motion exercise to help improve mobility.

ACL exercise

After knee surgery, especially the ACL, many patients lose their extension. If this extension is not gained quickly it can
impede the healing process. Try this stretch to improve your extension.

Straight leg exercise for quadriceps

Following most knee surgeries the quadriceps (thigh) muscle loses muscle mass in a matter of days. The stronger you are prior to surgery, the stronger you will be after surgery. This simple straight leg exercise can be done pre and post-operatively.

Lateral hip strength on Bosu

Most athletes have lateral hip weakness. This advanced exercise is an excellent way to increase lateral hip strength as well as core stability and shoulder stability

Upper body Plyometric

This is an excellent exercise to help build hip and trunk stability as well as arm explosion for sports such as golf and tennis. You don’t need a lot of weight for this exercise. The exercise should be explosive for fast twitch muscle fibers.

Strength Test

Try this simple test to determine if one leg is stronger than the other. Typically, you will have a dominate leg that may compensate for the other leg. All you need for the test is a wall and a stopwatch.