Do your knees seem to be older than the rest of your body? Are they stiff when you get out of bed? Do they hurt when you walk up and down steps, play sports, run, squat, or lunge?
If so, we might be able to help you avoid a costly scan or trip to a doctor/therapist!
We have Dr. Zaki Afzal back with us for Part Five of our FIX YOUR BODY series to tell you how to assess knee pain safely so you know why you are having issues.
Assuming your knee pain is movement-related, he has a few corrective exercises that you can do on your own that should help get you pain-free in no time!
Before we dive in, we want to quickly discuss when you SHOULD NOT do these assessments and exercises and some stats and facts that may help you better understand your knee pain!
How Common Is Knee Pain?
Knee pain is the second most common cause of persistent pain, and one-third of all Americans report experiencing knee pain at some time or another.
Two of the most common reasons for knee pain are being overweight and improper form/technique during activity.
If either of these is the root cause of your knee issues, there is a solid chance your knee pain is reversible, and something we can help you with — for free!!
Types Of Knee Pain
The biggest difference in day-to-day knee pain versus pain that may be activity or workout related is that discomfort in those that are active is generally felt on the front side of the knee and sometimes only occurs when lifting or post-lift.
Often, when people feel knee pain in the gym, they automatically think they need to take a week off training or go get an x-ray or MRI. Not so fast!!
There is a good chance that none of that is necessary! Remember what we’ve said throughout this series ….
If your pain originates from a movement-related issue … movement is most likely the answer to finding relief!
Of course, you have to do the right corrective movements — which is exactly what we are helping you with today and why we’re doing this entire series!
Speaking of, we’ve already gone over neck, shoulder, back, and hip pain! If you missed those episodes — you can find links to each at the bottom of this article!
Before we get started, we do want to make sure you know that these assessments and corrective exercises should only be done if you have knee pain that is movement or possibly joint-related.
If your knee pain is ongoing, severe, due to an injury or medical condition, or is accompanied by any other symptoms — you should see a doctor or physical therapist like Dr. Afzal for a one-on-one assessment.
FIX YOUR BODY EPISODE 5: KNEE PAIN
Below you will find three common movement related reasons for knee pain, assessments you can perform on yourself to see if this is your issue, and then a quick corrective exercise that typically provides INSTANT relief!
Again, before trying any of these, you must ensure your knee pain isn’t something more serious.
If you are confident your knee pain is movement-related, here are some possible root causes, assessments, and simple fixes!!
If at any time you are unsure how to perform anything below, click on the video box above for a step-by-step video demonstration!
COMMON ISSUE #1: POOR KNEE FLEXIBILITY
As mentioned, most active people will feel knee pain in the front of the knee.
The “medical” term for this is Patellofemoral Pain. To break down this type of pain in really simple terms …
- The patella is your knee cap.
- The femoral refers to your femur (the big bone in your thigh.)
- Patellofemoral is just the relationship your knee cap has with your femur – which is the straightening and bending of your knee.
Most active people with knee pain will have pain after they workout around this area or slightly underneath.
The first instinct when most people feel this pain is to stretch the quad. But that isn’t going to help because most of the time, this issue it’s not from the inability to bend the knee; it’s the inability to fully straighten the knee.
You can check this really easily!
Knee Flexibility Assessment
You want to see if you can get your “painful knee” as straight as your non painful side. The goal with this assessment is to check for symmetry side-to-side!
- Sit on a table or hard surface with your knees straight out in front of you.
- Evaluate if both backs of your knees hit the surface about the same.
- Now evaluate if they hyperextend about the same.
- Hold your knee down and see how high you can lift your foot up off the surface. Repeat on the other side.
If you are lacking on either side, that knee may need more mobility to properly tackle day-to-day movements and activities in the gym.
There is a straightforward way to correct this!
Corrective Exercise – Knee Extension Mobilization
This is an easy way to get your knee moving! All you need to perform this exercise is a foam roller or anything firm you can prop your foot on to slightly elevate it.
- Sit on a hard surface with legs extended and relaxed.
- Put the foam roller under the ankle of the “bad” knee.
- Cup your hands around your knee and push downwards toward the table/ground.
- Push until you feel a good stretch in the back of the knee.
- Hold for about 2 seconds and ease off.
- Repeat this movement for 10-15 reps.
- Immediately see how your knee feels! Perform the knee assessment again, go for a walk, go up/down some steps, do a squat movement, etc. One round should give you significant knee pain relief.
- Do not place the foam roller under your heel.
- You want to get a good stretch, but do not push too hard to where you feel pain or discomfort. Ease your way into more pressure.
- As you progress and build more flexibility, try flexing your quad when pressing down on your knee.
COMMON ISSUE #2: TIGHT/RESTRICTED ADDUCTOR
If you feel achiness in the knees when lunging or in a deep squat position, you want to make sure your inner knee muscles are open and have a full range of motion.
You may be shocked at what muscle in your leg could be limiting this from happening and potentially causing knee pain.
It’s your groin muscle!!
During the bottom of a lunge or squat, one of the main muscles that help you get up is the groin muscle (better known as the adductor muscle) – which attaches to the inside of the knee!
You want to ensure this muscle isn’t restricted, and the assessment for this is very simple.
Nothing fancy here .. just perform a few deep lunges or squats and see what they feel like! Super simple, but don’t skip this step!
You need to see if you feel any pain or restrictions. If they feel off, pay attention to how far you can go down, when and where you feel pain, etc.
This will be your “baseline” so that when you re-test – you will be able to better determine if the corrective exercise is working!
Corrective Exercise – Inner Knee Soft Tissue Release
This is very similar to the side glute tissue release we did in our hip pain video in the sense that once you hit “the spot,” — you will know!!
- Flip over onto your stomach.
- Prop yourself up on your side with the foam roller placed lengthwise under the inner part of your knee (to see the exact placement, click here.)
- Move around until you feel the spot that needs to be released. You will know when you hit it!!
- Once you have found it, hold and then lift your foot up and rotate it up and down, so you are rolling back/forth on the adductor muscle. Work your way across the length of the muscle, stopping at about halfway up the thigh.
- Hit each spot for about 5-10 rotations, for 2 sets, with about 30 seconds rest between.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Re-test your lunge and squat. If you had pain before, you should notice instant relief. Or, if you didn’t have pain, you should notice that you are stronger coming out of the bottom of the lunge or squat.
This is another example of where you feel pain may not directly represent where the pain stems from.
Exactly why we are giving you multiple options to try out! Let’s move on to the next!
COMMON ISSUE #3: LIFTING FORM
You might not have bad lifting form; you just might not have an ideal form for preventing knee pain or not aggravating the existing pain.
The few things you can do are – – limit range of motion, perform isometric holds, strengthen your quads, and make slight modifications to things like squats and lunges.
Modify Lower Body Exercises
In our episode on low back pain, we discussed how allowing your knees to go over your toes is not inherently a bad thing.
But if you have knee pain and still want to squat, it could be beneficial to not allow your knees to track over your toes simply because it can take a little bit of stress off the knee. Instead, sit back in your squat. Box squats are a great alternative.
Same with lunges! There is nothing wrong with allowing your knee to slightly track over your toes if you don’t have knee pain. But if you do have knee pain, you may want to try shifting your weight more onto your hips to see if that relieves some pressure.
Another good modification for lower body exercises is not going as deep as you normally would without knee pain. Have a marker you are going down to — then slowly move that mark lower and lower each training session.
Remember, these modifications are temporary! You don’t want or need to use them forever!
The intention is to make small adjustments that take a little pressure off your knees while you are working through your knee issues, so that you can still exercise.
You do eventually want to get back to the full exercise!
Limit Range Of Motion and Use Isometric Holds
Limiting your range of motion and incorporating holds is a simple and very effective way to calm down an irritated knee.
An isometric hold is simply when you hold a position and the muscle is firing, but nothing else moves. Think .. wall sits, static lunges, or holding a leg extension in the contracted position.
These are really great low-level exercises because you are in complete control of how hard you squeeze, how long you hold, etc. You can push harder or softer, depending on how it feels.
The idea is to start here. Eventually, after doing isometric exercises for a while, try adding in some limited range of motion until you work up to full knee extension!
If you feel any pain when attempting more range of motion, just scale it back!
Don’t Write Off Leg Extensions
Speaking of leg extensions, you may have heard they are a bad exercise if you have knee pain, but this isn’t entirely true.
In fact, Dr. Zaki says almost every patient he works with in knee rehab does some sort of knee extension because having strong quads can help avoid knee injuries in the future!!
Before you totally write of an exercise, remember that nothing is inherently bad for a particular part of your body. It’s all about the context that it is performed in.
If leg extensions hurt your knees, chances are you are just attempting to lift too heavy. Try scaling back before totally removing the exercise.
This sort of reminds us of the running myth. I’m sure you’ve heard that running is bad for your knees … but again, it’s all about context!
If you already have bad knees, pounding the pavement for hours might not be a great idea. But Dr. Afza says studies have actually shown that recreational runners have stronger and more healthy-looking knee cartilage in imaging than those that sit on the couch! This kinda busts the myth that running “gives wear and tear on the knees.”
What if none of these exercises work?!
What if you STILL have knee pain?!
As mentioned, you would want to see a doctor to rule out an injury, something mechanical, or anything more serious.
But there is another reason your knees could be bothering you. It is actually the most common reason people have knee pain.
If you are carrying around extra weight, there is a good chance your knees hurt because you are overweight.
In that case, you may probably want some help getting rid of the excess fat in the fastest and easiest way possible. The best way to do that is to diet and exercise based on your goals and body type!
A great place to get answers is our free body type quiz!
It is only 6 questions, you get your results instantly, and we also give you the top three things you should be doing to reach your goals faster and easier based on your genetics!
Take it for free — HERE!!
WE HOPE THIS ARTICLE AND VIDEO HELPED YOU FIGURE OUT WHY YOUR KNEES HURT AND HOW TO FIX THEM!!
You need to consider the root of your pain! You should not attempt any of these exercises if your pain is extreme or not related to joints and muscles.
Please talk to your doctor, or if you are in the Las Vegas area, feel free to click here to contact Dr. Afzal. He would love to help you!
If you are interested in the rest of our FIX YOUR BODY series with Dr. Afzal, here are the links to the episodes we’ve filmed to date!
Episode 1 on neck pain — you can WATCH HERE.
Episode 2 on shoulder pain — check that one out HERE.
Episode 3 on Back Pain – watch HERE
Episode 4 on Hip Pain – watch HERE
Come back next week! We are wrapping things up with ankle pain!
Source – https://www.classicrehabilitation.com/blog/knee-pain-statistics-and-causes/