Why Is the Knee a Prominent Injury In Sports?

Why Is the Knee a Prominent Injury In Sports?

Knee injuries are prominent in sports due to rapid changes while playing and the fact that it’s usually exposed during collisions, falls, and awkward landings.

Today, sports aren’t just a way to keep the body active, but they’re also social and economic activities that promote interaction between people and serve as a source of income for others. Nevertheless, sports are associated with a lot of injury issues that often affect sportsmen and women. Knee injuries are among the most common injuries people experience during various sporting activities. The injuries are mainly prevalent because knees undergo rapid changes and are highly exposed to getting knocked during sports. These injuries affect different parts of the knee, but the good thing is that they can be prevented and treated. Keep reading for more information about knee injuries.

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Knee Injury

Despite being the largest joint in the human body, the knee is prone to many sports injury. In fact, knee injuries account for more than 40% of all sports injuries in the world. In relation, thousands of sportspeople in the United States visit physicians every year for help with different kinds of knee injuries, including dislocations, fractures, ligament tears, sprains, and more. Understanding different types of knee injuries and how they happen can help prevent them. Also, most injuries can be treated through surgery, rehabilitation exercises, medications, and more.

Knee Injury: Common Causes


ACL Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major stabilizing ligaments of the knee. It’s in the middle of the knee, and its main role is to hold the shin bone together with the thigh bone and prevent them from slipping. An ACL tear or rupture often results in a knee injury. The tear can be due to landing awkwardly from a jump, pivoting with your foot planted, suddenly slowing down and altering direction when speeding, or a collision to the knee.

MCL Tear

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is another tissue that runs from the upper chin bone’s interior surface to the upper thigh bone’s inside surface. It holds the shin bone in place. Like an ACL tear, an MCL tear leads to a knee injury. The tear is usually caused by twisting the joint too much. Persistent pressure and stress on the ligament can also make it tear.

Torn Meniscus

The meniscus is a C-shaped cartilage pad in the knee that serves as a shock absorber. Each knee has two meniscus, and a tear to one or both means a knee injury. The meniscus can tear if you forcefully rotate the knee. Pain, swelling, and knee stiffness are the common signs of a torn meniscus.

Patellofemoral Pain’s Syndrome

Also known as a runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain’s syndrome refers to a damaged cartilage under the kneecap because of injury or overuse. Its common symptom is knee pain that increases when performing squat movements or climbing stairs.

Patellar Tendinitis

Patellar tendinitis, or jumper’s knee, is an injury to the tissue connecting the shin bone to the kneecap. It’s usually self-diagnosable, and its symptoms include knee pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome

Iliotibial band friction syndrome, or simply iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), is a painful condition wherein connective tissue rubs against the thighbone. It happens when the connective tissue from the pelvic bone to the shinbone tightens, making it rub itself against the thighbone.

Dislocated Patellar

Patellar dislocation occurs when the patella moves sideways out of its normal vertical groove. The dislocation is painful and can prevent you from walking. It happens toward the outside of the leg and is easy to correct.

Osteochondral Defect

An osteochondral fracture (OCF) is an injury to the subchondral bone plate and the articular cartilage. The fracture varies in size, depending on the cause, and it’s ordinarily painful.

Overuse Injuries

Knee overuse injuries are problems that arise from frequent pressure on the knee. Its often caused by performing repetitive motions that stress the knee. Jumper’s knee and runner’s knee are examples of overuse injuries.

Hyperflexion and Hyperextension

Hyperflexion forces the knee to bend forward beyond its limit, while hyperextension makes the knee bent backward past where it’s supposed to reach. Both hyperflexion and hyperextension lead to knee injury.

Risk Factors for Sports Knee Injuries


Previous Injury

Having a previous knee injury increases the chances of getting another one. This is primarily because previous injuries weaken knee muscles and tissues, making them more prone to problems.


Females are more prone to knee injury problems than males. Research shows that sports females are twice as likely to experience knee injury than their male counterparts.


Poor body structure, function, and motion put one at a high risk of a knee injury. This is especially true if you put more weight or pressure on the knee.

Weak and Imbalanced Muscles

Muscle weakness and imbalance increase the risk of knee injury issues. Weak and imbalanced muscles make muscles, ligaments, and joints unstable and subject to issues.

Poor Landing and Cutting Techniques

It’s common to make explosive landings and cut speed during sporting activities. A person with poor landing and cutting techniques is more likely to experience knee injuries than those with better techniques.

Errors During Training

Just like poor landing and cutting techniques, training errors put individuals at risk of developing knee injuries. In reality, errors are the leading cause of overuse injuries. Common training errors include exercising until the muscles fail or working out too much.

Surface and Footwear Problems

The surface you play or exercise on puts you at risk of knee injuries if it’s slippery, bumpy, or has other compromised. Putting on the wrong footwear for particular sporting activities also puts one in danger of knee problems.

Sports Specificity

Some sports specificity makes particular sportspeople prone to knee issues by putting more pressure on them. For instance, sprinting, jumping, and other intense movements in sports like football and rugby expose players to knee problems.

Excess Body Weight

Being overweight or obese puts more pressure on an athlete’s knee muscles and joints, putting them at a higher risk of injury. It’s also a risk factor for osteoarthritis, which is notorious for breaking down the knee cartilage and increasing the danger of injuries.

Old Age

Aging plays a role in the development of knee injuries among sportsmen and women. As one ages, different parts of the body, including the knees, become weaker and unstable. This puts older people more inclined to knee injury than younger individuals.

Warm Up and Stretching Failure

Sportspeople who perform activities without warming up or stretching are more disposed to getting knee injuries. Before engaging in any physical activities, it’s always good to warm up and stretch to reduce potential injury. Light exercises reduce injury risks by loosening the body and encouraging blood flow.

Neuromuscular Fatigue

A sportsperson with fatigue is in more danger of experiencing knee injury. Energized knee muscles can absorb energy and regular limb movement, thus reducing the risk of injury. Conversely, fatigued knee muscles can only absorb less energy, exposing them to many potential issues.

Contact Sports

Athletes who participate in sporting activities that involve making contact with objects and other players are at a higher risk of injuring their knees. These sports include boxing, football, rugby, judo, and karate. Limited-contact and non-contact sports like swimming and badminton are less associated with knee problems.

Common Types of Knee Injuries in Sports


Knee Fractures

Fractures are common knee injuries, with the most fractured part being the patella. The point where the femur and tibia meet can also fracture. Most knee fractures result from high-energy trauma, like falls and collisions.

Knee Dislocations

Dislocations in the knee occur when one or more bones slip out of their rightful place, either partially or entirely. Sudden change in direction when your knee is planted and trauma are the main culprits of dislocations.

Tears and Fractures to the Meniscus

Meniscal tears and fractures affect the knee meniscus. The tears and fractures can increase in size and cause severe complications, such as arthritis, if left untreated for a long time.

Cruciate Ligament Sprains

The four crucial ligaments that control the knee’s back-and-forth motion can tear or sprain. The tears can cause serious pain, instability, and swelling.

Patellar Tendon Rupture

This injury takes place when the patella tendon connecting the knee cap to the tibia tears. Mild rupture is associated with pain, while complete rupture can make extending the knee difficult.

ACL Tear or Spain

ACL tear or sprain is a common injury that affects the anterior cruciate ligament. Tears leave the ACL intact, whereas ruptures make the ligament partially intact or completely detached.

MCL and LCL Tears

Tears to the medial and lateral collateral ligaments are common knee injuries that split the connective tissues. The tears can be partial or whole, depending on the cause.

Torn Tendons

This injury happens when one or more tendons in the knee tear apart. Complete tendon tears can be a disabling knee injury.

Runner’s Knee

This is an injury to the connective tissue between the kneecap and shin bone, also known as the patellar tendon.

IT Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome is a painful knee injury that causes the ligament connecting the pelvic bone and shinbone to become tight and rub against the thighbone.

Less Common Knee Joint Injuries

The knee also experiences fewer known injuries, including kneecap and joint dislocations.

Prevention Measures for Knee Injury in Sports


Strength Training

Strengthening your knee muscles using several exercises and stretches is a great way to support your knees and reduce the risk of injuries. Be sure to perform the right moves for better results.

Suitable Warm-up

Warming up before any sporting activity is excellent for reducing injury risks. Jogging, stretching, and other warm-up moves make your muscles and joints flexible and ready for action.

Appropriate Techniques During Sports

Ensuring you perform all techniques correctly during a sporting event can significantly reduce your risk for knee injury issues. This means conducting the activities with the right equipment and formula to evade accidents and other issues.

Wear Protective Gear

Putting on protective gear like knee pads can significantly reduce knee injury risks. Protective gear will guard your knee against impact injury caused by hitting an obstacle or falling down.

Options for Treating Knee Injury in Sports

There are several treatment options for knee injuries in sports. Medication, physical therapy, and arthroscopic surgery help treat mild to moderate knee injuries. Severe issues like complete rupture are better treated by open surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why are knee injuries so common in sports?

Knee injuries are common in sports because the joint is highly exposed and experiences intense movements when a person engages in physical activities.

Why is the knee most commonly injured?

The knee undergoes many issues during sporting activities and is exposed to trauma during falls and collisions.

What is the most common knee injury in sports?

ACL injury is the most popular knee issue in sports. This injury affects the ligament connecting the thighbone and shinbone.

What is knee pain caused by sports?

Sudden runs, stops, and falls put pressure on the knee during sporting activities, resulting in mild to severe pain.

Why are knee injuries more common in female athletes?

Female athletes experience more injuries than they have less muscle mass around the knee. This makes the knee unstable and at more risk of injury. Female joints are also looser with more range of motion, making them easy to overstretch and injure.

Why are knees so easy to injure?

Knees support enormous body weight that puts a lot of pressure on them. The pressure often doubles or triples during sporting activities. Knees are also exposed to collisions and knocks.

Why is the knee the weakest joint?

The knee is the weakest joint largely due to its poor construction. It’s a hinge joint that is less stable and more restricted because it can only move forward and backwards.

Why are injuries so common in sports?

Injuries are common in sports because of the use of excess force and direct impact on different body parts during various sports. The repeated use of certain muscles weakens them, causing more injury problems.

Why are ACL injuries so common in sports?

ACL is a common injury in sports since nearly all sporting activities involve pivoting, which is the main cause of injury to the ligament.

What is the second most common knee injury in sports?

An MCL tear is the second most popular knee injury after an ACL tear.

Are sports bad for knees?

Any sporting activity that puts a lot of pressure on your lower body is terrible for your knees.

How can I prevent knee injuries during sports?

Stretching, wearing protective gear, and doing sports correctly is key to evading injury to the knees. You can also prevent injury by strength training your knees.

What sports activity has the most knee injuries?

Football is the sporting activity with the most knee injuries, with more than 450,000 cases every year.

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