This week’s Speedo Tip of the Week comes from strength and conditioning specialist Mike Mejia, author of “The Men’s Health Gym Bible.” Mejia recommends some exercises that might help prevent knee injuries.
Although the shoulders receive most of the attention from an injury prevention standpoint, the knees are also an area that should be of particular concern to swimmers.
This holds especially true for females, whose inherent anatomical structure makes them far more prone to knee injuries than their male counterparts. Their wider hips, in relation to the position of their knees (known as the Q-angle) places an inordinate amount of stress on the medial, or inner aspect of the joint, most specifically on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It also causes them to rely too heavily on their quadriceps, which can alter the normal mechanics of the knee joint resulting in a painful condition known as patellofemoral syndrome.
While it’s true that knee injuries like these are far more common in ground-based sports like soccer and basketball, the constant pushing off of the blocks and off the walls during flip turns makes them a growing concern for young swimmers. That’s why exercises like the ones featured here should be a regular part of your dryland workouts. They’ll help strengthen those under-used gluteals and hamstrings and stretch muscles that are pulling your knees out of their natural alignment.
Butterfly Stretch: Sit up straight with the soles of your feet touching each other as you press your knees down towards the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then rest and repeat.
Kneeling Quad/ Hip Flexor Stretch: Get down on one knee with your other leg positioned at 90-degree angle in front of you. Bend your back knee and grab your ankle as you lean forward on your front leg. Hold 20-30 seconds, then rest and repeat with the other side. Do two stretches on each side.
Single Leg Bridge: Lie on your back with your arms folded across your chest and one leg held up over your hips at a 90 degree angle. Next, brace your core muscles as you press your foot onto the floor and use your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips up until your body forms a ramp. Hold for a second, then lower and repeat. Do two sets of 8-10 reps with each side.
Side Lying Abduction: Lie on your side with your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders stacked. Begin by bracing your core muscles and using your outer thigh to lift your leg up until it reaches a 45-degree angle to the rest of your body. In doing so, be sure you lead the movement with the outside of your foot – and not your toes – to keep the focus on your glutes. Do two sets of 10-15 reps with each side.