Knee pain - two words that can make us cringe and will impact most of us at one time or another. We know that the majority of people will experience knee pain during their lifetime. Studies have shown that it is one of the leading causes of chronic pain and affects over 100 million North Americans. Even though it is such a common concern, most of the people we come into contact with, still haven't been shown how to properly manage and prevent the pain.
This quick read will give you some tips on how you can immediately begin to impact some of the key factors influencing your knee pain.
1. The Ankle & Hip Joints Directly Effect Your Knee
The range of motion around your ankle joint can play a large part in what happens at the knee. Tight calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and soleus), can lead to an inhibited range of motion at the ankle. When you squat down, lunge forward, or climb the stairs, extra stress is placed on the knee joint as your tight calf pulls on the back of your knee. Rolling and stretching the calf can provide some quick and easy relief.
Also, don't forget about the front of the ankle. There's a band of connective tissue called the retinaculum, that can benefit from some active rolling and flossing. Placing the front of the ankle on the roller and massaging back and forth, can create more space for the muscles and tendons to operate.
One of the greatest factors influencing the hip is the weakness of the glute. You can easily find tons of information available regarding weak glutes and how to "wake" them up. One particular muscle to target is the glute mead, which aids in the alignment of the knee joint. Anytime your knee is caving in, there is excess stress being placed on the knee. This stress on the knee is one of the common causes of knee pain. By addressing the strength in the glute mead, we will often see significant improvements in knee positioning and a reduction in knee pain.
2. Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Anterior pelvic tilt, a tipping of the hip girdle towards the front of the body, places forces on the knee that are not natural. It can lead to poor positioning in lower limbs as the thigh and lower leg rotate inwards, the foot experiences over-pronation, and the knee collapses inward. If these all sound like bad things for your knee it's because they are.
The majority of people sit and stand with an anterior pelvic tilt. The reason? A combination of tight hip flexors, weak core and glute musculature. You have probably heard these 3 things preached before, they are not new, and certainly not uncommon. How people tend to address these imbalances can be the issue. Increasing your activity levels, or engaging in more squats and lunges, does not necessarily alleviate these concerns. Proper research, or work with a professional should be undertaken in order to correctly address these issues.
3. How to Adjust Exercise to Reduce Pain
If you are already experiencing knee pain, the first thing you should do is go and see a professional. A proper screen and assessment is critical to prevent damage and put you on the quickest path to recovery. However, there are a few tips you can use to help reduce the stress on the knee joints during exercise.
1. Avoid jumping and explosive movements. Imbalances that you have will only be accentuated during explosive movements. leading to increased stress on the knee.
2. Focus on technique. Slow the movement down, don't concentrate on the weight used or the number of reps being completed. Zero in on the positioning of the knees, hips and ankles throughout your range of motion.
3. Decrease the range of movement. Start with a small range and once that can be completed pain free, with proper form, gradually increase the range and begin to work towards full-depth.
It is important to note that rarely is the recommendation to stop exercising. Knee pain is not a reason to stop squatting, running, hiking or playing sports. It is a reason to seek help, investigate the cause and poor a little time into your body.