KNEE PAIN TIPS
1. Good shoes are your easiest asset
I tell my clients that good shoes can often solve 80% of any pain issue. Good shoes can support your foot from rolling too far in or out, help your brain sense what your foot is doing when it hits the ground, and help with full body positioning and posture. Current footwear trends like minimalist shoes, flip-flops, sandals and heels do not give the body the support or the input to the brain that it needs to help you maintain a safe and functional posture. These shoes are okay for special occasions or short durations, but good shoes should be a staple in your closet. Good shoes help with joint pain, alignment issues, balance, proprioception and performance. See the link below for an annually updated shoe list from the Postural Restoration Institute. You cannot go wrong with any of these shoes.
2. Low Impact Activities for the Win
My clients often feel that more is always better. I make it a point to educate them that this is not the case. Low impact activities like cross-country skiing, yoga, Tai Chi, rock climbing, and pilates are all good ways to keep knees strong and healthy, burn calories, and increase cardio muscle strength without overloading the joints. Biking is a particularly great low impact activity for knees. It moves your knee through a fairly large range of motion, with resistance it will build strength and if you do enough, it will help you to lose weight.
3. Weight Management
If you have weight to lose, this can be a huge help. When walking, the load at your knee can be up to 3 x body-weight each time you put your foot on the floor. With running the loads at the knee joint can be up to 12 x body-weight. In other words, losing even 1 lb. in weight will result in 3 lbs. less load at your knee joint each time you take a step when walking and 12 lbs. less load if you are running.
4. See a good physical therapist
In addition to these suggestions, a good physical therapist is a must if your pain is not changing. The longer you wait, the longer to recover. A good physical therapist will be able to educate you on how to restoring range of motion, strengthen, and give you a customized program to improve YOUR individual mechanics.
5. Avoid end ranges
Sitting cross-legged forces your knees to twist placing stress on your joint and the surrounding muscles. Kneeling places your knee in full flexion and creates a lot of pressure under your kneecap. Avoiding these positions will put less stress on your knees causing less pain.
6. Squatting or Getting in/out of a chair
There is a lot of gym-myth about how to squat, but really the function of a knee during squatting or getting in/out of a chair is very simple. Your knees are made to BEND. The old wise tail of “your knees should never go past your toes” is ancient history. Normal knee range of motion is around 130-140 degrees of bend. Why have we been taught for years to only strengthen them to 90 degrees? Try keeping your feet hip-width apart. Keep your knees pointing forward in the same direction as your toes. Load weight through your heels as you rise, letting your knees bend forward to stand up. In this position, your shins and trunk should be fairly parallel (looking from the side) – this will help share the load between your hips, knees, and ankles, protecting the knee long term.