Here’s a revelation…Just because your knee or knees hurt doesn’t mean you have an injury to your knee.
I know that sounds counter intuitive but it’s the truth.
Sometimes you have knee pain due to a torn meniscus or chondromalacia or a tendon/ligament sprain/strain. However, what I’m going to talk about is pain in the knee that IS NOT due to an injury and I’ll give you some guidelines to help you save an unnecessary trip to the doctor.
Do you remember a moment when you felt a sudden sharp pain? Do you have instability in the knee? Did you fall on it or twist it awkwardly? If the answer is no you should probably start with some stretches and massage of some the muscles that connect other joints to the knees. You may just be tight and need a good stretch. So check those first. However, if you are ever in doubt please see your doctor as soon as possible.
The body is an amazing machine that is interconnected from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. That interconnection makes it possible for us to do some amazingly athletic and coordinated movements…it can also cause pain in places that are not injured.
The knees are a common one for just that sort of thing.
If you have some knee pain here are a few simple checks you can make to see if you are just experiencing tightness elsewhere in the body which is causing pain in your knees.
First is the hips. Tightness in the hip flexors and quad can cause pain in the knee cap. If your hip flexors are tight that tightness can work it’s way down the quad and into the Patella Tendon which is the tendon that attaches your quad to your shin.
If the TFL, which is a muscle in your hip, gets tight and tugs on the IT band you can feel pain down in your knee. This muscle flows into your IT Band which attaches along the outside of the knee in a direction going from the side toward the front of the knee. This can cause pain down the outside of the knee that extends into the side/front of the lower leg.
So tight hips can be an issue. The fix is simple a regular routine to stretch and mobilize the hips. If your hips are out of alignment a chiropractor may be needed to get them lined back up but then you need to get into the stretches to keep them balanced.
What’s another issue?
How you move can be an issue. How you are moving can cause some of the hip tightness I referred to above but it can also directly effect specific parts of the knee joint. If you are drastically out of position you may cause sharp pain and instant injury or you may be slightly out of position which will cause a problem over time.
What are some things to look out for?
When squatting is your weight forward, meaning you are pushing the ball of your foot into the ground versus the middle of the foot? Is your heel coming off of the ground? If you squat forward you are loading the quads more than you need to which causes the Patella Tendon to pull your shin forward. It’s a lot of strain on your Patella Tendon and can lead to a Patella Tendon or meniscus injury. Sitting your weight on the middle/back portion of your foot protects your knees by getting your hamstrings involved which pulls your shin back thus keeping your knee and Patella Tendon safe.
Are you using your glutes to squat and deadlift? This is important with keeping off of the frot of your foot but it’s also important with your ability to actively rotate your thighs out toward the side and keep your knees in-line with your feet.
Also, the width of your squat stance can be too wide which causes your knees to buckle in toward the middle. Both of these issues can either cause an injury in a single rep or can slowly eat away at your knee health over time. Here is another instance where stretching and mobilization are important for knee health as well as making sure you are in the proper lifting position to begin with because the stretching will allow you to get into a correct and safe lifting position.
Pain in the back of the knee can be coming from the external rotators of your hip. They are the muscles that allow you to rotate your thighs so your knee caps can point out to the side. These muscles have important roles in any physical activity you do that involves your legs. And again, a good stretching and mobility regimen can solve a lot of these issues.
These are just some of the issues that you can run into when involved in a consistent workout routine. They are not injuries per se but if some of the issues, like poor position in your lifts, are not corrected they can lead to overuse injuries in the future.
So before you run off to the doc because of knee pain have a qualified coach check out your position on your lifts. See if your hips and/or glutes are tight and work on the muscles to relax them. If none of that helps go see your doctor and get checked out so you can get back to working out pain free as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading.
I’ll chat with you again real soon.