Chronic knee pain can put a quick halt to your active life. Depending on the issues surgery or joint replacement might be the most viable solution. But even with knee surgery, you can potentially be left with a whole new set of knee problems, or issues with other body parts and joints. Keeping our body healthy and doing the right exercises to stay strong, fit, and flexible is an important part of a weekly wellness program.
But it can be a challenge to keep moving if your knees hurt.
(or any other body part – for that matter…) And if you do too much, or just ignore the pain and “push through it” you can potentially create a host of even more serious problems.
Here are seven tips to consider to help alleviate knee pain problems.
7 Tips to Help Get Relief for Knee Pain
Always consult with your doctor first to rule out any serious medical conditions and determine if exercise is appropriate for you.
ASK your doctor to refer you to a qualified physical therapist, or physiotherapist. Even if they feel it’s not necessary – strive to get a referral so you can have help learning how to do the right exercises for you to help get you out of pain and back to optimal health.
Evaluate your Posture and become aware of your standing, sitting, and movement habits.
- If you always stand on 1 leg, or with 1 or both knees locked, this can contribute to knee pain.
- If you always cross one leg over the other – it’s not great for your knees, hips, or back!
Improve Your Core Support. Pelvic Floor, Abdominal strength, Breathing, and Back support can help lift your body up off your legs, reducing stress and strain on your legs & knees.
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Your body weight can dramatically affect knee health. A one-pound weight loss can reduce the stress on your knees by 4 lbs!
Improve the Functional Movement Habits at the Hip. Proper pelvic placement and good hip mechanics can help you use the powerful muscles of your Glutes and Hamstrings more, and Hip Flexors and Quadriceps less to achieve balanced muscle development and better functional movement habits.
ALL of the muscles in the body need to be in balance. If you have a noticeably dominant or weaker side you can experience joint pain. Especially in regards to the knees, the Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Adductors / Inner Thighs, Abductors / Outer Thighs, Glutes, and Hip Flexors all need to be both strong and flexible to help the knee track properly when you bend and straighten the legs.
Pilates training, especially exercises on the Reformer and Chair are excellent for learning how to strengthen the hips and maintain a stable pelvis and core. With practice, these good movement habits should transfer back to your other exercise, sport, and daily life activities.
- If you stand up, and climb stairs, or do squats and lunges by straightening your knees to lift – there is a lot more strain on the knee joint. But, If you learn how to stabilize your pelvis in a functionally supported position, and straighten the legs by extending from the hips first, the knee joint will straighten, but it doesn’t bear the brunt of the work.
- If you tuck your pelvis under to sit or squat – all the force of your body weight goes directly into the knees, and will result in knee pain! Keep your pelvis in more of a "neutral" position and learn to move the legs independently with more Hamstring support and your weight is more evenly distributed through the whole body to support bending the knees.
- If your legs "wobble" or drift inward or outward when you sit down, stand up, or climb a stair there might be a lack of strength or support with the inner & outer thigh muscles which should be keeping the leg in alignment as you bend and straighten your knee. Moving the legs with this "wobble" puts more pressure on the knee joint and can be a contributing factor to knee pain.
Knee pain is no fun. Ignoring the pain, popping a pill, or getting a cortisone shot isn’t going to truly solve the problem. While pills and shots can assist with pain on a temporary basis, getting to the root of the problems and improving your body alignment and movement habits will be an important part of reducing or eliminating knee pain forever.
Check with your doctor, find a qualified therapist / functional movement expert in your local area, and commit to doing what it takes (with help,) and on your own, to re-train your muscles and movement habits for better muscle balance and pain-free knees!