It is very common for athletes to experience knee pain while playing sports like soccer, basketball, and football — while it is common especially amongst adolescents and young adults, it shouldn’t be “normal.” Many youth sports teams focus on sport-specific skills and conditioning and can practice up to five days a week plus games.
Sometimes very little time is spent on injury prevention and self-care/maintenance; a high volume of activity + minimal time spent on keeping athletes healthy = injuries and pain.
Now, while knee pain is a common complaint seen in youth athletes even when there is no traumatic injury involvedIntroduction, there are some signs to consider:
- Common areas of pain are in the front and/or inner portion of the knee with activities such as running, cutting, jumping, squatting and lunging
- You may see swelling around your knee cap
- Rest typically helps reduce the pain, but pain may return when you start playing again
If activities like squatting, lunging and jumping hurt, try practicing squats making sure your toes are in line with your knees and performing a proper hip hinge (maintaining flat spine as you squat down) with your knees staying over your ankles or at least not going past your toes.
If you have a difficult time coordinating this, PT can assist you and teach you good body mechanics to help with knee alignment while playing; knee pain with running try to shortening your stride and increasing your cadence (steps per minute) while landing on your forefoot — also making sure toes are facing forward and not inward!