Whether you are a former footy player, a recreation bike rider or runner- or perhaps you’ve just over the years developed bad knees. There is nothing more frustrating than knee pain particularly if you plan on moving around as much as you can and for a lot longer yet.
Again, similar to the back pain article that we posted last week- just because knee pain is common. Does not mean it is normal or even that it is something to just be accepted and plod on through in the hope it doesn’t end up becoming something more serious.
Unsurprisingly perhaps it is a very similar plan of attack to managing lower back pain. Again we are looking for stability in some areas and mobility in others. Of course it isn’t so simple for everyone however for a vast majority of aches, pains and generally dodgy knees it is reasonably simple in theory.
Common causes for knee pain
Interestingly, outside of knee injuries such as ligament or tendon tears- the more long term chronic aches and pains don’t start out as a knee problem. Rather the problem is up further or down below- think ankle or hips.
Again the chair strikes. If you’re spending long periods of time at the desk it is likely your hips are tightening, your glutes are switching off and your core is under firing.
Tightness and then weakness in these areas cause instability at the hip and the after effects are felt down the line into the knee and often the ankle.
Your butt cheeks are composed of three major muscles, gluteus major, medius and minor. Your glutes are responsible for hip extension, stability and external rotation at the hip. When weak, your knee is likely to collapse inwards putting enormous stress on the knee area.
It is common for recreational runners to show up with bad knees, weak glutes and a set of quadriceps that are tight and quick to fire at the expense of the butt. Interestingly if a member doesn’t feel as though their technique on a squat is right- rightfully so they will ask for our help on technique or stop and we will chat about it.
They wouldn’t consider doing a set of ten reps knowingly performing with bad technique. But wouldn’t bat an eye lid with a ten-kilometre run on poorly firing movement patterns where it is not out of the ordinary to perform 4-5000 strides (or reps) per leg with poor technique.
You can see how this can lead to problems?
Another muscle group often lacking strength (somewhat ironically following the last little bit) is one of the quadricep muscles- your vastus medialus oblique, or VMO. The tear shaped muscle on the inside of your quads just above the knee.
If you've never had knee pain in your life- chances are yours is quite good. If you have a history of knee pain and can't see the muscle we may have found a contributor that you can work on.
First step is activation with static holds, then progressing through to peterson steps, quad focussed squats and then acceleration decelaration movements such as jumping or landing movements that challenge the VMO and knee stability.
Pair this up with work on your rectus femoris, or the center quad muscle that can be very, VERY tight and you will make a dramatic difference to your knee health and longevity.
Travelling further down the limb to the ankle and again the issue of mobility vs stability is prevalent.
At the risk of sounding a bit like a broken record the ankle should not only be able to move in the three major planes of movement (forwards, backwards, side to side and rotation) but it should have control in these movements. Hence the mobility and stability.
Like all joints there is quite a bit going on around the ankle- ligaments, tendons, muscle, fascia etc that like anywhere else in the body needs to be managed.
A great start is rolling out the arch of your foot with a hockey ball to loosen off the tightness that will help allow the ankle and in particular the foot to move a little more freely and subsequently takes a bit of the strain out of your achilles and calves.
Strengthening the muscle at the front, outside-ish of your shin, your tibialis anterior is another way to help bring stability in to assist with the mobility on the other side.
If you are someone who has worn away the cartilage in your knee, these may help alleviate pain or discomfort- but by no means are they considered the magic cure.
It is over years of experience that we have seen many people with niggling injuries around their knee's and these are some of the methods that have yielded quite good results for most people.
If this is the kind of information that resonates with you and you would like to learn more about, or how to further progress your training without injuries holding you back- it may be worthwhile looking at our fundamentals pack to learn the mobility, stability and techniques essential to you overcoming niggling pain and taking your training results to the next level- head over to our Fundamentals Pack for more information.