Suffering a major knee injury is never going to be fun. In fact, it can be quite daunting approaching this type of injury and the requirements for recovery, both from a physical standpoint, as well as a psychological standpoint. Recovering from a knee injury will include physical rehab, but sports psychology and mental techniques may also be utilised with great effect.
The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body. The knee itself joins the thigh bone, also known as the femur, to the shin bone, also known as the tibia and there are other smaller bones involved along the joint as well, and a variety of tendons, which are what connect the bones to the muscle.
What is most likely to be injured knee, while participating in sport or exercise, is one of its many ligaments. Tendons connect bone to muscle, whereas ligaments connect bone to bone. Unfortunately, in the knee, they are quite susceptible to injury due to quick stopping, starting, changing direction or impact force during sport.
The knee includes four separate ligaments. Most sports fans and players know the most common injury typically occurs to the ACL. However, the other three ligaments, the MCL, PCL and LCL, may be injured as well, and bad injuries may involve multiple, or all of these ligaments at the same time. This of course increases recovery time and requirements substantially.
An ACL tear, which is the most common, can be mild or severe and the recovery time could potentially take up to a year following surgery. This will include intensive physical rehabilitation to regain full mobility, along with a period of time spent on crutches. It will likely include about six months away from playing sport or intensive exercise which requires the use of the legs.
PCL tears account for less than 20% of knee injuries, much less common than ACLs, because the ligaments themselves are stronger and larger. As such, these injuries typically occur due to physical contact or force whilst the knee is bent, such as an errant football tackle. When the PCL is completely torn, surgery may be recommended, and a lengthy rehabilitation of 6-12 months will be required.
A different type of knee injury is a patellar subluxation, or partial dislocation of the kneecap. The kneecap may be able to return to normal position utilising rehabilitation and rest, although surgery may be required if this has been ineffective.
One reason why mental or psychological recovery will be necessary is because participants must learn to trust their knees once again. In order to properly exercise or perform at a high level in a competition, there cannot be any lingering concerns of reinjuring the knee, which causes hesitation, or an inability to use 100% effort. After physical recovery has been completed, mental recovery to allow for this is essential.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that recovering from a serious knee injury doesn’t occur overnight. It will require some patience and dedication, and individuals will encounter both physical and mental challenges along the way. It’s also important to maintain physical fitness and nutrition during recovery. Remember that training can be modified based on current capabilities, focusing more on upper body movements for instance while recovering from knee injuries. Stay focused and stay positive, and any knee injury can be overcome.