It’s a few weeks into the New Year, and the numbers at the gyms are rapidly declining. For many, the craziness of life has pulled them away from their New Year’s resolutions. But for others pain and injury has caused them to stop an exercise program. In our last blog we discussed how limited foot mobility can be the cause of injury. Today we will discuss one of the most common sites of pain: the knee.
Knee pain is common, but the knee is often not the source of the problem. The knee is sandwiched between the hip and the ankle, sharing bones with both. Problems at the knee are caused by weakness and inability to properly accept weight through the hip (keep posted for more about this on the next blog), by decreased ankle mobility at the ankle (discussed in our last blog), and most commonly by combination of the two. When there is limited mobility at the ankle and/or weakness at the hip, the knee collapses in to compensate when weight is placed through the leg. This may be a minor collapse or very severe, and either way can contribute to pain at the knee.
To check your knee, stand on one leg and perform a slight squat or knee bend. The knee should stay straight over the second toe. If the knee moves inward, this is a sign of a problem.
One exercise to correct this is to stand with the knees slightly bent and keep the ball of the first toe on the ground as you turn the knee out. This helps to retrain the knee to track in line with the second toe during weight bearing.
People with knee pain also often complain of pain after sitting for long periods of time. This is because movement is important to keep joints healthy and pain free. When sitting for long periods it may help to add some movement to the knee. This can be accomplished by sitting at the edge of the chair, straightening the leg out in front of you, keeping the toes pointed up, the leg turned in and slowly bend and straighten the knee. Doing this 20 times every 30 minutes to an hour of sitting can head off some knee pain.