Did you know that the knee is the largest joint in your body? This joint takes its fair share of impact as we walk and take the stairs. Knee pain is a common complaint among people of all ages. Usually, knee pain is caused by inflammation from improper lifting, poor flexibility, bad shoes, muscle weakness, or failure to warm up. Knee problems can also be caused by structural changes caused by arthritis, torn cartilage, or damage to the ligaments surrounding the knee.
If you can extend your leg out straight without pain, you typically have a less serious inflammation issue in your knee joint. However, if you are experiencing structural damage, your knees may be visibly swollen or you may not be able to get into a squatting position to at least 90 degrees. If the swelling does not decrease after icing the knees and taking an anti-inflammatory medicine for 7-10 days, it may be wise to see a doctor to obtain images like an x-ray or MRI.
When you are exercising, make sure you know your limits. Building up the muscles in the quadriceps and hamstrings will help to decrease pain, especially during a structural injury. Staying active helps to control weight, which decreases the amount of pressure that extra pounds are placing on your joints. With each step that you are taking, two to four times your body weight is transmitted through the knee joint. Non-impact aerobic exercises, such as the elliptical, stationary bike, or swimming can be done without putting additional stress on the knees. Stretching the calf, hamstring, and quadriceps will help to take pressure off of the knees and patella. Losing weight may not be easy, but if you are able to lose even ten pounds and add stretching and flexibility training, you will experience a significant decrease in pain.
Supportive shoes can help you take the pressure off of your knees by promoting the correct leg alignment and balance. For women, high heels are a common cause of knee pain because the quadriceps have to work harder to hold your knee straight. Make sure you have the proper shoes during your exercise sessions. Not only is it important to check your shoes, but your posture as well. When you begin to slouch, you lean forward and walk bent over at the waist. This posture is typical to those experiencing knee pain. Do your best to keep your head centered over your shoulders and shoulders over your abdomen and pelvis. Make sure to work on your core too! Having a strong core helps promote good posture and lessens pressure on your knees. Try planks, back extensions, and other abdominal moves to strengthen your core.
If you are having knee pain, please feel free to contact Stephanie Szpila, LMT for an appointment. Soft tissue mobilization, cupping, and kinesiology taping will be utilized in order to decrease knee pain and get you on the road to recovery. Please call or text (716)866-3261 to set up an appointment.
By Stephanie Szpila