Top Tips for Happy Knees
Second only to lower back pain, knee pain is probably the thing I see and treat most often. Both acute and chronic knee problems can be quite debilitating and so often stop us from doing the activities we love.. running, cycling, yoga etc The knee is quite a complex joint, and due to its position it is highly influenced by what's occurring at the hip and the foot/ankle. When the hip stabilisers aren't doing their job properly, the knee takes the strain, when the hip muscles are tight and pulling on the ITB?? the knee takes the pain... and when the ankle is unstable or your foot arch is collapsing, you guessed it, the knee takes the fall. My point is that rarely does a knee just go wrong on its own, it is the majority of the time part of a bigger pattern and unfortunately the knee was the weaker link in the chain (leg!) There are so many structures that could be causing knee pain and other symptoms such as swelling, locking, giving way and clicking. Ligaments, muscles, tendons, bursa and joint surfaces are all structures that could be involved and it is extremely important to have your pain diagnosed by a professional such as an osteopath. I have a few tips for those of you who are keen to keep your knees happy, based on common issues I see amongst my patients that lead to knee injury or pain: 1) Foam roller - you knew I was going to say it so I'll get it over and done with. Learn to love this painful sucker, its a bit of a lifesaver! For the purpose of looking after those knees, I'm talking specifically about the quads and the glutes.. and don't forget to work along the inside, front and the outside of the front thigh where the quad meets the ITB. 2) Keep the glutes strong (I'm like a broken record player) - don't just think lunges, squats and deadlift have it covered, I'm talking about glute strength for keeping your hips stable. Single leg glute bridges, step ups, sidelying hip abduction, single leg deadlifts and single leg squats are some great ones! Make sure you're paying attention to your form, quality over quantity! 3) Keep the feet and ankles strong - Motion at the ankle joint is coupled with rotation of the lower leg and therefore has a direct influence of strains going through the knee. Make sure your ankles are strong and stable, and that you have correct support (orthotics) if required. Bosu balls, wobble boards and therabands come in to play here if you need specific weaknesses addressed 4) Check your form! This one is so important and can really prevent the development of a knee injury. Every so often when you run, run in front of a mirror (on a treadmill of course ;) ) or get someone to video you running from infront - is one of your knees caving inwards with each stride? This is a very easy indicator that there is something not right, get it looked at before it becomes a real problem! How about your knee positioning when you do squats and lunges, especially once you fatigue a bit - does that knee creep inwards rather than tracking directly over your toes? Correct it! It could really save you if you notice it early and kick it in the bum 5) Keep your quads strong - especially towards the inner part of the knee. Things like wall squats, leg press and leg extensions are fab for this when your form is good and helps to even out any imbalances that may be developing 6) Don't forget to stretch - piriformis, hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, calves etc. Doesn't take long, and dead easy to talk yourself out of doing it.. but don't. Any questions then you can always drop me an email, and now it's easier than ever to book an appointment with the online booking system!