No Pain, No Knee Strain

Ed­u­cate your­self on knee strain and pain to help pre­vent in­jury

Figure Skater Fitness - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - by David Mer­son, PT, DPT, ATC

Know the ex­pres­sion, you’re the bee’s knees and how it means you’re the ab­so­lute best? Well, we think you and your knees are both fan­tas­tic, which is why we want you (and your knees) to re­main healthy and strong for your life­time. Af­ter all, you use them con­stantly, do­ing squats, burpees and lunges off ice, while putting them in full play on the ice.

As a fig­ure skater, you need healthy knees, along with your hips and lower legs, to em­power you to jump, per­form beau­ti­ful chore­og­ra­phy and so much more. The thigh bone, your fe­mur; the lower leg bone, the tibia; and the knee cap, the patella all need to work well to­gether for op­ti­mal on ice and off ice train­ing. An in­jury to this area has the po­ten­tial to keep you off of the ice and limit your train­ing. Rec­og­niz­ing and un­der­stand­ing po­ten­tial in­juries can help you to avoid in­cur­ring them.

Sprain ver­sus Strain, Lig­a­ments ver­sus Mus­cles

A sprain refers to when a lig­a­ment is over- stretched and a strain refers to when a mus­cle is over-stretched. Lig­a­ments are soft tis­sue struc­tures that con­nect bone to bone. A lig­a­ment cre­ates sta­bil­ity be­tween two bones. Mus­cles are soft tis­sue struc­tures that al­low you to jump, bend, ex­tend and per­form on and off the ice. In ba­sic terms, mus­cles are your movers and do-ers.


In­flam­ma­tion is a com­plex word that we use when a part of the body is ir­ri­tated. This ir­ri­ta­tion can come in many forms: pain when mov­ing, ten­der­ness to touch, vis­i­ble red­ness or other dis­coloura­tion and/or swelling. Swelling is fluid that gives in­flamed body parts a puffy ap­pear­ance.


BODY PART: The patella (knee cap) ten­don con­nects your quad (big thigh mus­cle) to your lower leg. The con­nec­tion of the two passes over your knee cap.

TYPE OF IN­JURY: In­flam­ma­tion of this ten­don can be very painful and will of­ten hurt when you bend the knee, land from a jump and even touch it.

Why it hap­pens: Over­train­ing and overuse in which pli­a­bil­ity is not fo­cused on pre and post ac­tiv­ity.

HOW TO RE­COVER: The sim­ple ver­sion of patella ten­donitis re­cov­ery is to de­crease the in­flam­ma­tion with ice ap­pli­ca­tion, but see­ing a spe­cial­ist to ice mas­sage and use a vi­brat­ing ther­apy de­vice will help the mus­cles on the front of your thigh and lower leg stay re­laxed.


BODY PART: The me­dial col­lat­eral lig­a­ment (MCL) is a lig­a­ment on the in­side part of the knee that con­nects to the in­side of the thigh bone, your fe­mur and to the in­side of the lower leg bone, the tibia.

TYPE OF IN­JURY: A sprain to this lig­a­ment oc­curs when it is over stretched. It can be painful to touch, painful to move your knee and feel like you are not sta­ble.

WHY IT HAP­PENS: Over stretch­ing while the rest of your body, your hips, knees and an­kles per­form ac­tiv­i­ties with less than ideal form, like when your skate gets stuck on the ice and stays fixed in that po­si­tion while the rest of your body keeps mov­ing. HOW TO RE­COVER: Through a sports medicine spe­cial­ist who can re­duce sur­round­ing mus­cu­lar tight­ness and al­low the lig­a­ment to heal.


BODY PART: The quadri­ceps, bet­ter known as your quads are large mus­cle groups on the front of both of your thighs.

TYPE OF IN­JURY: A quad (not the jump) strain is when the big mus­cle on the front of your thigh gets over­stretched. The quad can then be painful to touch, painful to stretch and/or feel hard to touch. In ad­di­tion, it will feel dif­fer­ent than your non-in­jured quad.

WHY IT HAP­PENS: Over­train­ing and re­peated im­pact. A quad strain can oc­cur when jump fre­quency is in­creased too quickly and/or when not enough mus­cle re­cover is al­lowed dur­ing train­ing pe­ri­ods.

HOW TO RE­COVER: The key is to re­duce ten­sion on the in­jured por­tion of the mus­cle, ob­tain ther­apy that will en­hance re­cov­ery and per­form ex­er­cises and off-ice ac­tiv­i­ties that can re­duce in­jury risk.

Know your body parts and how to iden­tify po­ten­tial in­juries

PHOTO CREDIT: Pho­tog­ra­phy by Syd­ney Robin­son

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