Knee pain is one of the most common pains I see as a personal trainer and it is a huge stumbling block because it really limits the range of motion people can go through pain free. When you have limited range of motion it is harder to build functional strength, or do the exercises that will make the biggest difference for your body. Getting back your range of motion becomes the number 1 priority!
There are many reasons you could have chronic knee pain. I’m going to discuss the most common reasons I see.
1. An injury to your lower body that has causes you to compensate your movement pattern, this causes unusually tight muscles and other weak muscles pulling around your knee joint, pulling it out of position and causing it to rub the wrong way
2. Over use of the muscles surrounding the knee, exercising a lot with no thought to the recovery of your muscles
3. Sitting or being sedentary for a long time.
4. Doing things that cause a lot of pounding on your lower body, jumping, running down hill etc.
5. Hyper extension of the knee because of loose ligaments and tendons.
6. Excess weight on the body that causes a lot of pressure on the knees.
So there are a ton of different injuries and lifestyle patterns that can cause your knees to be pulled out of position and the one I find universal is people who haven’t been living in full range of motion have issues with their knees. Take a look at the picture below of the muscles around the knee.
As you can see there are a lot of muscles surrounding the knee joint. One example of how knee pain happens is, a person is sitting a lot which tightens up the Rectus Femoris (one of the major quad muscles that crosses both the hip and knee joint) . Because this muscle is tight it excessively pulls on the kneecap cause the whole femur to shift forward and have the knee start moving from a positions that is not ideal for it. After a long period of time, this starts to cause knee pain. This is one of many different senarios that can cause kneepain.
What to do about your knee pain? You can see your doctor about your knee pain, sometimes they give you a good answer to help it out.
What I have seen to work the best not only on myself but on my clients as well is a total lower body TLC program.:)
A TLC program is a Tender Loving Care program for your lower body. It consists of consistently every day to 3x a week, massaging/rolling out/stretching your lower body. The more you exercise the more this needs to be a part of your routine.
The Places that will have the biggest impact on your knee pain.
Front of knee pain: Really getting the quad muscles right above your kneeloosened up. I like using the foam roller, for the major all over stuff and then a yoga ball or lacrosse ball to really get into the muscles right about the knee. Once the foam roller and the lacrosse ball stop hurting as your do it, your muscles are loosened up enough.
Back of the knee pain: Massaging/foam rolling/lacrosse ball/strengthing the hamstrings and calf muscles. I want you to focus on the areas right by the knee, and you will be using the lacrosse ball slightly to the side on the back side, not directly on the back of the knee, that will hurt. If you look at the picture above there is a diamond of muscles around the back of the knee, those are the areas that you are going to focus on loosening up.
Lateral Knee pain: This one typically comes from a tight IT band, which is a band of tendons that goes down the whole out side of the leg. I like foam rolling the best for this one. And foam rolling should be down before and after every workout and every day, to keep it loose. The IT band will also affect your front knee pain as well, so foam rolling the IT band is a good one to do regardless.
Medial Knee pain: Getting the inside adductors (Inner thigh muscles), and the medial head of your Gastrocnemius (Big Calf muscle) are going to help you feel the best on the inside.
Typically you have to do a combination of all these techniques in order for you to feel the best.
Here is a routine I would recommend for someone with knee pain to do to get rid of it.
1. Lower body massage two times a week for a month, go down to once a week after that. Focus on the muscles upper calves, Quads, Lower hamstrings, glute muscles and inner thigh muscles.
2. Foam roll your IT Band, calves, quads and inner thighs once a day 3-5x up and down.
3. Lacrosse ball or yoga ball on the Quad muscles right above your knee, top of the calf muscles, and in your glute area one minute each side each area every day.
4. Move your knee through a full range of motion pain free as often as possible.
5. Stretch your quads, hip flexors, calves, inner thighs and glute muscles every day for 1 min each side and each area.
If you do this consistently for 6 weeks, you will find that your knee pain is gone!!!:) . Then you just have to maintain. I would recommend the same routine 3x a week instead of every day, and find the muscles that have the biggest impact for you, and simplify your routine from there. The initial work is the hardest, that is why I recommend getting a massage therapist to help start you out. They will keep you consistent and your job during a massage is to relax, which makes the work of loosening up your muscle go twice as fast as a opposed to doing it yourself.
There you go!!! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me about any of the techniques I use, or any other question!
Lots of Love,
Article by Liz Glorioso