Squash is a fast paced sport that requires a high level of coordination, speed, agility and skill. Adequate muscle strength and control is necessary to reduce the risk of injuries to the knee when performing sudden, multi-directional movements across court.
Did you know during the year of 2016 there was over 45,000 claims through ACC for knee injuries from sports. It’s a vulnerable joint that needs extra care.
And here’s why.
When we suddenly pivot or step to dodge an opponent or dive to reach the ball the knee is put under enormous stress and its vulnerability to injury is increased. Ligament strains occur when the knee is either twisted, or when increased stretch is placed on the inside (or outside) aspect of the knee. There are 4 ligaments inside the knee that are at risk of injury during sudden pivots, stopping on the spot, or falling on the knee while it is bent.
The Anterior cruciate Ligament (ACL) sits inside the knee joint and prevents the tibia (shin bone) from moving forwards under the femur (thigh bone) and is commonly injured when coming to a sudden stop on one foot. Squash players are at a high risk of injuring this ligament as they land on one foot after stepping to reach for the ball.
The Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is also located inside the joint and works to counteract the pull generated by the ACL. This ligament is commonly injured when falling onto a bent knee. Injuries happen when diving for the ball, landing on a bent knee which can tear this ligament. It is also commonly injured during car accidents when the bent knee is forced against the dashboard.
The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) lives outside the knee joint and attaches the femur to the tibia along the joint line. This ligament is injured when there is an excessive force put on the inside of the knee which causes the ligament to overstretch or tear. This can be caused by twisting your foot on the ground or suddenly changing direction. Due to the high paced nature of squash, and the level of agility required to pivot quickly, the MCL is at high risk of injury.
The Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) is on the outside of the knee (opposite the MCL) and provides support against forces that may push the knee outwards. Injury to this ligament is less common than other ligament injuries around the knee. Injury can occur by sudden changes in direction and twisting with a fixed foot. Similar to the MCL, this can be injured in squash by pivoting quickly and putting strain on the knee.
The signs of a possible ligament injury around the knee are:
- Local pain to touch
- Injury occurred when twisting or changing direction
- A feeling of instability at the knee
- Inability to weight-bear through the affected limb
Ayden’s Top Tips to getting back to squash fast.
- If an injury occurs STOP IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT try to play through the injury. By playing through the injury, you may cause more damage and slow down the process of recovery and getting back to playing sport.
- RICE in the early stages of injury may help to reduce the pain. If ice does not reduce the pain, try applying a heat pack or having a hot shower. The heat may have a positive effect on the pain. Only apply ice packs for 20 mins at a time with a barrier between the pack and the skin. For ice packs use a damp towel and for heat packs a dry towel to avoid any skin burn.
- Book in to see your physiotherapist ASAP. Your physio can help to diagnose the severity of the injury and aid in the recovery. Ensuring fast treatment of the injury will improve the outcome of rehabilitation and return to sport.
- Strapping can help. By strapping the knee you can provide support for movement while also aiding swelling reduction within the joint. If you are unsure of how you should tape your knee, speak with your physio for tips and tricks on how to apply tape. Try using a tape that can stretch as opposed to rigid tape that can affect blood flow to your lower leg when the joint begins to swell. Once the swelling has reduced, you can use rigid tape to provide support to the joint.