Knee pain affects one in four adults. Often people with low back or pelvic pain have difficulty moving correctly because their knees hurt. Let's talk about risk factors and four easy ways to decrease your knee pain!
Risk factors include inactivity, carrying too much bodyweight, poor posture, insufficiently healed injuries, and poor nutrition.
Here's what you can do NOW!
1. Stay active:
Joints thrive on movement. Motion is lotion to aching joints. Some movement is always better than no movement. For knees, low intensity is best.
Swim, walk, bike.
Several muscles cross your knee joint. When one muscle pulls abnormally on the joint, it can change the way your bones move around each other and increase pain.
Try these 3 stretches, twice a day, 5 days a week.
Active Calf Stretch
Stand on the edge of a step.
lower your heels and hold for 20 seconds, then slowly raise heels as high as you can. Repeat 5 times.
This one is easy to do at the office!
Quadriceps Stretch on Chair
Place your knee on a chair, keep chest upright, lean forward and feel the front of your thigh stretch (A). Hold 20 seconds. Repeat 5 times. For an even deeper stretch, stand further from chair and bend your stance leg allowing your knee to bend more (B).
Active Hamstring Kicks
Hold onto something steady. Swing your leg forward keeping toes up and feel stretch in the back of your thigh (A), then let your leg swing behind you as far as you can (B), feeling a stretch in the front of your thigh. Kick forward and back 10 times, two sets.
Strong muscles help hold your knee bones in place while you move, this decreases painful wear and tear. The muscles found to help most are the muscles on the front of your thigh, hip muscles, and core.
Straight Leg Raise
Lie on your back with non-affected leg bent. Activate your core and squeeze the front of your thigh. Slowly lift your leg two feet and lower. Repeat 10 times, two sets. Add ankle weights if this is too easy.
Lie on your side with knees bent (A), keep your pelvis level, activate your gluteal muscles, then lift your knee (B). Slowly lower. Repeat 10 times, two sets.
Start on your elbows and knee. Add a pad if the pressure hurts your knee. Lift hips and hold 30 sec-5 min, whatever you are able to do.
4. Good Form:
Sit to stand correctly every time. First, let's see what's not good. On the picture below, can you see knees moving towards each other during a run? Think of sitting in a chair as a squat. Try to avoid letting your knees fold into each other.
Now check out the great form below. This lady has it right! Her knees and feet are both hip width apart. No painful angles on her knees!
Use good form each time you sit and stand, and try to move slowly. It's a great way to sneak strengthening into your day!
These simple strategies will help ease most knee pain. If you still are having trouble, come see a physical therapist at CTS for individualized exercise prescription and manual therapy to get you moving faster!