How can I get rid of knee pain?
VERONIQUE YEON, MSCPT
Many people have experienced a nagging knee pain that won’t go away. It’s not painful enough that it stops you from doing daily activities, but as soon as you start running, or you sit for too long, or you start going up and down stairs…BAM there it is.
Here are a few tips that may help you. Unfortunately there is no “cookie cutter” solution. Everyone’s knee pain is different, so it is always important to get your knee assessed by a professional if the pain persists.
Anatomy of the knee
The major movement of the knee is bending and straightening (flexion and extension). Many tendons (tensile tissue that connects bone to muscle, but does not contract) cross the knee. The main ones are the hamstring tendon which flexes the knee, and the quadriceps tendon which extends it.
The tricky part about the knee is that your patella, commonly referred to as the “knee cap”, inserts directly into the tendon of your quadriceps. The surface of your patella that faces the femur actually has grooves in it to be able to track properly with the femur. Watch this video to see
The meniscus is also a major part of the knee. It acts as a cushion between the femur and the tibia. Lastly, the ligaments which stabilize your knee are also very important and may be a source of pain. There are other structures but we’ll stick to these for now.
Here are a few things you can work on to prevent and help with knee pain
Release your quadriceps
If your quadriceps has increased tension, then it likely is not at optimal length and may be having restricted blood flow. Also, if you remember that the patella inserts in the quadriceps tendon and so increased tension in the quadriceps subsequently creates extra tension on the tendon, which may result in improper tracking of the patella (sometimes referred to as patella-femoral syndrome). Or the tension could create inflammation at the insertion of the quadriceps tendon, also known as “jumpers knee” or patellar tendinitis.
Work on initiating movements from your hips – Hip hinging
When you are squatting you should initiate the squat from your hips. Therefore the first thing to move should be your hips backwards, not your knees bending. Watch the video.
Proper tracking of the knee
Don’t let your knees cave in (valgus) when walking or squatting. Your knee was made to bend front to back not left to right.
When you have a valgus knee, you create increased stress on certain parts of the knee tissues and you are creating a bowstring effect on the patella. Guess what happens…BINGO! We run into improper patella tracking.
To avoid this:
1. Keep your knee tracking your 2nd toe. Watch the following video.
2. Practice squat jumps or ¼ squat on one leg to strengthen every part of your quadriceps. See video.
Now you just need to put these to action.
Véronique Yeon, MScPT, is a physiotherapist and CrossFit coach in Ottawa, Canada.