1. Avoid Prolonged Periods of Knee Flexion
All of the joints in our bodies, particularly the knees, prefer to have a balance in all things.
The knee is a hinge joint meaning that it moves in 2 directions–flexion and extension. Flexion occurs when you bend your knee and extension occurs when you straighten your knee.
During the course of a normal day most of us will perform far more movements into flexion than extension. Overtime this imbalance can begin to cause what is known as mechanical pain.
In many cases there is no actual tissue damage occurring and the pain is actually only a result of increased sensitivity to the tissue from being over-stressed. Fortunately, this type of pain can be rapidly reversed by creating more ‘balance’ in your movements throughout the day.
The first way to regain this ‘balance’ in the knee is to recognize and avoid prolonged knee flexion. This includes sitting with your legs crossed (in a chair or on the floor), driving for long periods, working in a kneeling position or doing repetitive squatting.
2. Regularly Perform Knee Extension Exercises
The second aspect to regaining ‘balance’ in the knee (besides avoiding excessive knee flexion as discussed above) is to initiate more knee extension throughout the day.
Knee extension occurs when our knee is in a straightened position. The only time we spend without our knee in this position is when standing still and even then many people tend to keep a slight bend in the knees.
Here are a few easy ways to start to regain knee extension during the day:
- Stand and walk for a minute or two at least every 30 mins when sitting for longer periods.
- Seated exercise: click here (Perform 10-15 repetitions 3-4x throughout the day)
- Standing exercise: click here (Perform 10-15 repetitions 3-4x throughout the day)
3. Cardio Is Key
The main thing to remember with this tip is that ‘Motion is Lotion’!
Regular movement through cardiovascular exercise is crucial to a healthy knee joint. Doing so helps to stimulate the production of synovial fluid (the natural lubrification inside of our joints) and will do wonders for joint pain and flexibility.
This could include regular walking outside, biking, swimming, treadmill walking, elliptical, etc. The key is to choose the most enjoyable one to you that allows you to get moving in a way that does not aggravate your knee pain.
4. Strengthen the Entire Biomechanical Chain
Improving your overall strength around the knee is vital to reducing your knee pain. But the knee does not operate in isolation. It is just one link in the bio-mechanical chain that allows you to walk, standing, squat, run, etc. In order to achieve the greatest results you will need to also strength the back, hips, knees and ankles.
Here are a few big ones to get you started…
- Bridges: click here
- Clamshells: click here
- Hip Abductions: click here
- Decline Squats: click here
- Tibialis Raises: click here
Perform 10-20 repetitions of each exercise 2-3x/week, ensuring all are performed in a pain-free range of motion.
5. Consider Your Footwear
Not all shoes are ideal for walking. It’s best to limit or completely avoid wearing shoes like stilettos and other types of high heels.
What’s more, even pumps and shoes with a slightly elevated heel can cause damage to your joints. While these types of shoes are fine in moderation, you’ll want to avoid consistently wearing them.
The best types of shoes for those with knee pain are athletic and running shoes. While there are plenty of athletic shoe brands that claim to provide the best fit and support, research shows these brands aren’t always the best.
When picking a walking shoe, you’ll want to go for one that’s flexible and bendable. Shoes that are too hard or stiff tend to restrict your foot’s range of motion. Also, look for a thinner sole, as this will ease the load placed on your knees.
6. Try Walking Backwards Once In a While
This may seem like a strange one but hear me out. Walking backwards is actually a common health practice throughout other parts of the world and has been shown to reduce knee pain, improve posture, reduce knee pain as well as improve overall balance and coordination.
This can be performed outside on a level surface or on a treadmill which will allow for arm support to help maintain your balance as you get started.
To ensure your safety, it is always recommended that you start at a slow pace and short distance and gradually increase these only as you feel comfortable doing so.
7. Get Evaluated By a Movement Expert
Even though using these tips will make a surprising difference with your knee pain, in order to truly get to the root of the problem and fix it for good, it is vital that you consult with a physical therapist that you trust.
Medication may mask symptoms, but rarely resolves the underlying problem. Invasive procedures like surgery and injections are also hit or miss options.
There is no faster way to END your knee pain than by seeing a qualified Doctor of Physical Therapy. If you’re ready to get started, click one of the links below so that we can get you on the road to feeling good again!
~ Dr. Dallin Page