Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Dr. Vicky Ton, PT, DPT
Knee pain is one of the most common areas for joint pain and arthritis. Joint pain is the most prevalent in people age 65 and older, but may affect people of all ages. There are many different aspects to managing joint pain and, hopefully, preventing joint pain from ever happening! Taking a look into how you are managing your physical health is an important aspect to your overall health and wellness.
Here are some different ways to help decrease your likelihood of having knee pain!
Proper Movement Mechanics:
Being mindful of your knee tracking during exercises or movements is a simple way to ensure there are no extra joint forces being placed within the knee!
The bottom line is to decrease the amount of “caving in” (pictured on right) your knees do during different movements. An easy cue to help with this is to keep your keep caps pointing in the same direction as your middle toe (pictured on left). Of course, there are many movements that require you to move your knees in different ways and is much harder to maintain during dynamic movements, but checking in with your knee tracking as often as possible with help to minimize the stress within your knee joints. This basic principle applies to all activities requiring knee bending such as: squatting, lunging, going up or downstairs, lateral stepping, jumping and landing, getting up and sitting down into a chair, and the list goes on!
Leg and Glute Strength:
Training to decrease the caving in of the knees involves a lot of upper thigh and gluteal musculature strengthening. Having stronger gluteal muscles will help to stabilize the knees from the top down, and activating these muscles decreases the caving in motion of the knees overall. One easy way to help train yourself out of caving in knees is to add a simple resistance band to cue a pushing out motion of the knees during exercises.
Many other exercises with the resistance band will help to strengthen the hip abductor muscles.
Sidestepping with the resistance band is a great way to train these muscles and adds in a multi-planar aspect to your exercises. There are many different variations and other exercises that can be done with the resistance bands as you progress.
Proper shoe wear can help you avoid additional stress into the knee joint as well. Collapsing arches in the feet add a torsional force within the knee that may contribute to knee pain, and adding shoes with proper arch support helps to decrease that stress.
Maintaining Appropriate Weight:
Having excess weight in your body can put additional pressure into your knee joints and increase your likelihood for knee pain. Extra weight may cause more discomfort in your knees with walking and any type of weight-bearing activities.
Appropriate Physical Activity:
Activities such as running and walking add in ground reaction forces that may make your knees feel as if they are getting extra compression forces that they may not be ready for. Your recreational activities should not leave you knee joints too achy, stiff, or sore, so there may need to be some modifications in order for you to do them safely for your joints. Activities such as cycling, swimming, and pool aerobics have much less compressive forces in comparison. You can always talk to your physical therapist to find out which forms of exercise or what modifications to your current exercises may work best