Knee Pain 101
By: Shannon Uppington NSCA-CPT, DOMP
Snap! Crackle! Pop! No, I’m not talking about Rice Krispies, I’m talking about your knees. Unfortunately, these sounds are often associated with pain when it comes to the knees. Knee pain is on the rise. It’s actually one of the most common areas of pain/injury that I see in my Osteopathy practice and in my fitness classes, next to neck and lower back pain.
Knee pain doesn’t just happen to runners or seniors. Knee pain can happen to just about anyone at any age. Knee pain can be the result of injury (such as a torn ligament or cartilage degeneration), tight muscles, incorrect weightlifting form, bursitis, tendonitis, poor gait or medical conditions like arthritis. All of these can result in damage to soft tissues around the body. Most times, knee pain responds well to physical therapy, exercise and stretching, while surgery may be required for more serious conditions.
On one hand, the knee is quite simple. It is a hinge joint – all it does is flexion (bend) and extension (straighten) and some minor rotation. On the other hand, the knee can be quite complex. The knee is formed by the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone) with the patella (knee cap) laying over top to protect the front of the knee and create a better lever arm for the muscles of the thigh. Many muscles cross the knee joint and some of those muscles also cross the hip or ankle, which is why many physical therapy experts believe that most knee pain is caused by not the knee itself, but by issues within the hip joint or ankle/foot. The knee contains several ligaments such as the ACL, MCL, PCL and LCL and the menisci between the upper and lower leg bones (divided in to lateral and medial poles).
The thigh muscles are responsible for moving the knee. The muscles in the front of the thigh, the quadriceps, extend (straighten) the knee and the muscles in the back of the thigh, the hamstrings, flex (bend) the knee. The IT band connects to the outside of the knee and several adductor (inner thigh) muscles connect to the inside of the knee. The knee is a strong joint that plays an important role in many daily activities like walking, so it’s imperative that we take care of them!
Some ways that you can prevent knee pain are: maintain a healthy weight as excess weight puts increased stress and demand on the joints, warm up before playing sports, do strengthening exercises and stretch, do balance and stability training, practice good form and technique, and train smart if you have a current knee problem.
Next, I am going to show you some SpiderTech Kinesiology taping applications, foam rolling and stretches that you can do to help with your knee pain. It’s important to note that you should see a Medical Doctor or a health professional if you have any of the following: can’t bear weight on the knee or you feel like it is going to give out, swelling, redness, deformity, unable to bend or straighten the knee or have severe pain associated with an injury.
There are several SpiderTech i-STRIPS taping applications that can be done to help with knee pain. The great thing about the SpiderTech i-STRIPS is that they are quick and easy to apply and they do not need to be applied by a professional which makes them great for everyday pain relief. Here is a few below:
1) This is the basic i-STRIPS application for general knee pain. Simply place one i-STRIP down each side of the knee, slightly curving each one.
2) This next one is very similar to the previous application but with an i-STRIP going horizontally below the knee. This is great for pain over and below the knee cap.
3) This application is great for lateral, or outside, of the knee pain. Place one strip vertically down the outside of the knee.
4) This last application is the same as the previous one but for the inside of the knee.
Quadriceps stretch: Stand with your legs close together. Then lift one leg by bending the knee. Grab your foot with your hand. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Tip: If you feel wobbly, use your other hand to hold onto something steady for balance.
Hamstring stretch: Standing, take one leg in front of the other. Keeping your front leg straight and your back leg slightly bent, tip forward from your hips so you feel the stretch in the back of your thigh on the straight leg to stretch the hamstring. Lift the toes to stretch your calf.
Foam rolling these two muscle groups can also helpful.
Foam rolling for the Quadriceps: Face down, prop yourself up on your forearms with the foam roller underneath the front of the thigh (quadriceps) of one leg. Use your arms to help roll your thigh back and forth on the roller. Be careful not to roll onto or over the top of the knee cap. You can do this with your leg straight or with the knee bent which will be slightly more intense.
Foam rolling for the Hamstrings:
Place the foam roller under the back of your thigh (hamstrings). Place your wrists under your shoulders and lift your hips off the ground slightly. Use your hands to push yourself back and forth. Be careful not to roll over the back of the knee.
Shannon Uppington NSCA-CPT, DOMP
Facebook: SHAPE UPP (@ShapeUppOsteoFitnessCoach)