A sprained knee can be a huge problem for any athlete. This type of injury is extrememly common in sports like football and basketball where quick changes in direction are a pivotal part of the game. A knee sprain is often caused by a twist of the upper leg while the foot is firmly planted on the ground, or another player simply falls on your leg at a strange angle. However it happened, you want it gone. Here’s how.
Taking care of a sprained knee, or any joint, requires four simple steps. A friend taught me the simple acronym R-I-C-E to help me remember the steps required for treating a sprain. Those four steps are rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You can always use this acronym for future reference if you happen to get hurt again.
Let’s get down to the steps.
- Rest – This is a pretty obvious one, but it is also one of, if not the most important step of the R-I-C-E sequence. It is important that you keep as much stress off of your knee as possible during the healing phase. If you try to walk around before you’re completely healed you run a high risk of re-injuring the joint. If you want to test your knee, take a seat and try to move your leg around at the knee joint to see if there is any pain.
- Ice – So far, I’ve mentioned ice in all of my sprain/injury articles. Ice is important for reducing the swelling of your knee as well as reducing the pain that comes along with a sprain. Use the 20/40 rule for ice. 20 minutes of ice applied, followed by 40 minutes without ice each hour.
- Compression – Believe it or not, putting a bit of pressure on a sprained joint like the knee can help reduce the pain. The reason for this is that the pressure helps provide extra support for the joint and keeps it from moving in any unusual or painful directions. I would recommend picking up a knee wrap/brace if you don’t already have one. If you watch the NBA a lot, you’ll actually notice that a lot of the players have compression sleeves around their knees. This can really help prevent further knee sprain complications.
- Elevation – This one is the same as the rule used when you have a sprained ankle. Raising the injured knee up in the air a bit will help reduce the swelling while simultaneously reducing pain. Just make sure your leg is solidly supported so it doesn’t move or fall from the raised position.
Of course, you can always throw in some medication like Ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling even more. But for those of you who aren’t big fans of pills, just stick to the tips above. Also, remember that your joints will probably get pretty stiff by the end of your recovery period since you haven’t moved them much. Try sitting in a hot bath for a while to help loosen yourself up. This will make it much easier to get back to your normal state in a short period of time.
Hope this helps a bit, and best of luck with your recovery.