The knee is the largest joint in the body, made up of bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. It is built to withstand extreme pressure. In fact your knee routinely feels the force of five to eight times your body weight with every step!
It is classified as a hinge joint that bends and straightens in about 130 degrees of motion and isn’t designed to rotate like the ball and socket joints of the hip and shoulder. What it lacks in rotational movement it makes up for in stability.
Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions for which people seek medical treatment.
Ligament sprains and cartilage tears are the most common knee injuries. Ligaments help control motion by connecting bones and bracing joints against abnormal forces. Cartilage cushions your knee and helps to disperse force when the joint is in motion.
Acute injuries like tears or strains are often caused by quickly changing direction, twisting or pivoting, and landing awkwardly from a jump. Injury can also occur due to repetitive motions that cause stress in the joint over time.
The majority of knee pain doesn’t originate in the knee at all but is most often caused by problems occurring above the knee in the hip or below in the foot. For example, weak hip muscles may cause more strain on the knee, intensifying your pain. Strengthening the muscles around the hip joint can help relieve it. In addition tight muscles around the knee joint may prevent it from moving properly and can cause wear and tear.
If you are experiencing any knee pain or reduced range of motion, see your healthcare provider right away to identify the source and put together a treatment plan.
You can kick away knee pain by taking just a few minutes to give them the love and attention they deserve.
How To Kick Away Knee Pain
First don’t stop moving – It can be tempting to avoid activity when you experience pain. A decrease in activity will lead to weakness in the muscles that support the knee, increasing your chances of injuries. Instead, modify your activity and take the pressure of the knee joint. Try water based activities like swimming or water aerobics, or try a low impact activity like cycling. Of course make sure you check with your health care provider before adding any new activity especially when you are experiencing pain.
Speaking of activity – make sure you include a proper warm up before you get right into it in order to prime the muscles and joints and avoid injury. Warm-up activities can differ depending on the type of workout, but your main goal with a warm-up should be to prepare your body properly for the workout. Listen to episode 60 “get your head in the game” for more on warming up before your workout.
Also make sure you aren’t doing too much too fast.Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over time to allow your body to adjust and provide the proper support.
Strengthen & Lengthen Muscles
And finally, make sure to include strength & flexibility training in your routine. Keeping those knees healthy means keeping the muscles that support them long and strong.
Include exercises that strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and abductors as they provide support for the knee. It’s also important to work on flexibility as tight muscles can pull the knee out of alignment and cause wear and tear.
Here are a few exercises:
- Stand with your feet hip width or slightly further apart. Your toes should be pointing straight ahead or only slightly outward.
- Keep your weight on your heels and bend your knees while lowering your hips towards the ground as if you are sitting down on a chair. Try to keep your chest up and back straight.
- Continue until you feel a slight stretch in your quadriceps. Pause for a count of one. Do not let your knees extend out beyond the level of your toes.
- Return to the start position by pushing down through your heels and extending your hips forward until you are standing straight. Repeat.
1.Stand upright, with your hands at your hips or hold dumbbells at your side.
2. Take a large step backward with your left foot.
3. Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor with your right knee positioned directly over your ankle. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor with your left heel lifted.
4. Return to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor and bringing your left leg forward to complete one rep.
5. Alternate legs, and step back with right leg.
- Lie on your right side with your feet and hips stacked, your knees bent 90 degrees, and your head resting on your right arm.
- Draw your knees in toward your body until your feet are in line with your butt. Place your left hand on your left hip to ensure it doesn’t tilt backward. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your abs engaged and your feet together, raise your left knee as far as you can without rotating your hip or lifting your right knee off the floor.
- Hold for 1 second, squeezing your glutes at the top of the move, before slowly lowering your left knee to the starting position.
- Repeat for 15-20 reps then switch sides
- Stand on one leg. If you need support, hold onto something solid, such as a wall or chair, for support.
- Bend your right knee and bring your heel toward your buttock.
- Reach for your ankle with your opposite (left) hand.
- Stand up straight and pull in your abdominal muscles. Try to keep your knees next to each other. Relax your shoulders. As you hold your leg in the bent position you will feel a slight pull along the front of your thigh and hip.
- Breathe deeply and hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the left leg, this time holding your ankle with your right hand.
Doorway Hamstring Stretch
- Lie down on your back near the left side of a doorway, placing your left leg against the wall and extending your right leg through the doorway. (It may be easier to get this close by rolling onto your right side, bringing the left leg up the wall, and then turning onto your back. If tightness in your hamstrings does not allow you to bring the entirety of your left leg against the wall, don’t worry: Come only as close as you can while feeling a tolerable degree of stretch. As you repeat this stretch, aim to gradually inch closer.)
- Flexing your left foot, press your left leg into the wall to activate your hamstrings 5-10s.
- Relax the leg and try to move a little closer to the wall to increase the stretch. Repeat the contraction for another 5-10s, relax and move a little closer if possible. Repeat the contraction and relaxation once more then switch sides.
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee and keep your right foot flexed.
- Bring your left knee toward your chest. Reach your right hand through your legs and interlace your fingers just below the crease of your left knee.
- Using your arms, pull your left knee toward your chest, pausing when you feel a stretch in your right glute and hip.
- Hold there for at least five breaths (though you can hold the stretch for up to two minutes) then release and repeat on your left side.
Make sure you see your healthcare provider or certified trainer for recommendations on knee exercises specific to your condition, and if you find that a certain exercise hurts, stop and try another.
Above all else, listen to your knee pain. If you develop pain and swelling in your knee, take a break from walking, running or any other high-impact activity you’re doing. Follow the RICE protocol — rest, ice, compression and elevation — and get it checked out by a doctor.
Your knees are two of the largest, most heavily used joints in your body. It’s no wonder that knee pain is so common and so hard to ignore.
Hopefully by implementing a few of the tips in this post you are able to kick away that knee pain.
If you take the time to care for this impressive joint it will allow you to be active, capable and pain free for years to come – willpower not required.
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