Pain in any form stinks to endure, but knee pain might just be one of the worst since the knee joint is so much a part of our life in movement.
In general, there are things we can do to reduce our sensation of any joint pain such as drinking half of our body weight in water each day or eating nutritious foods (not the processed junk most people are eating these days out of convenience).
But when it comes to pain, most people want to move beyond reduction of symptoms and into healing, if possible, so how do we do that?
First we need to understand where the pain is coming from so we can address the problem. Did you know that 90% of the people I meet with knee pain don’t have deteriorating knees or need a joint replacement, but rather have it because of one of the following 3 reasons?
- Weak Hips-
I’m sure it won’t be something new to hear that people living in today’s age are sitting way too much. In fact we sit so much that it’s becoming an alarming health risk in many areas. Muscle weakness is one of those areas.
After the age of 50 our muscle mass (when not stimulated) decreases at an amount of 1-2% per year. That doesn’t mean that our younger counterparts aren’t in danger as well.
It is estimated that less than 5% of adults perform 30 minutes of physical activity each day! That’s not many. Which means that we are allowing our muscles to waste away.
I know that in a culture of people who want to lose weight, building muscle doesn’t always seem like the right direction but when we build muscle tone, our bodies are better supported.
**Our joints are better supported!** When we don’t use our muscles often enough, they kind of “go to sleep” and forget how to do the job they are supposed to be doing. In the case of our hips, if they’re not functioning properly, it would lead our knee(s) to be moving in inefficient ways that would put more stress and strain on them over time.
You can feel this when you’ve sat in a chair with your ankles crossed for too long or with your ankle under your other thigh for too long and when you stand up, there is an obvious ache in the knee joint.
How do we fix this? Start exercising regularly and consistently (yes, those are 2 different things). Add in some exercises, not just for your glutes but also exercises that move your leg to the side and front of you.
I can tell you that in the people I have worked with showing weak knees from weak hips, they are able to achieve 99% relief from participating in a regular hip strengthening workout.
- Tight Hamstrings-
Back to the idea of sitting too much, not only does your muscle mass deteriorate (which by the way also leads to bone weakening) BUT your muscles, tendons and ligaments become shorter and tighter.
Imagine you had an amazing slingshot. You know, the kind you hold in your hand and stretch the band back with the rock in the sling to shoot. Now imagine you had let it sit in the garage for a while during the different seasons. When you go back out to shoot it again, the band will either, a) not stretch as far or b) break.
Now let’s consider that our muscles are much like that band. They have the ability to stretch and contract. If we do not practice stretching them, they will not increase their flexibility and will in fact begin to lose their flexibility.
Did you know that tight hamstrings can also be a major cause of back pain? It’s true. So instead of allowing our muscles, tendons and ligaments to wither away and leave us with a bill of pain, be proactive and start stretching them.
Yoga can be great but you don’t have to do “yoga” in order to see the benefits of flexibility. Get a strong stretching routine down and perform it consistently each week and you’ll begin seeing a difference sooner than you might think.
- Improper exercise form-
A common statement in my world is “I can’t do XX because it hurts my knees”. From experience, I can safely say that at least 70% of those people hurt not because of the exercise itself but rather because they aren’t performing the exercise correctly.
There’s usually a gap between what we think we’re doing and what we are supposed to be doing.
It’s not a blame game, most of the time – unless you worked with a really poor trainer or friend who let you get away with bad form long enough to bring you pain.
Instead it’s simply human nature. We get into a rhythm and our bodies are very good at compensating for short comings (ie. weak hips) and before we know it, we just don’t feel good anymore when we perform XX exercise.
The fix here is usually pretty easy- wake up the muscles that are asleep, loosen the tight areas and teach the body proper mechanics in movement and lifting. **In other words, learn how to do the exercises correctly**
This is something that we work with 100% of our client on from the beginning until the end of time. We want to make sure that our clients are moving with ease and efficiency and not being held back by the pains of poor body mechanics.
So I can tell you that if you really want to get better in this arena, ask for help. Either from a friend who’s willing to be honest or more highly recommended is to seek the help of a professional, whether that’s a personal trainer or physical therapist.
Now there are a few people who don’t fall in one of these categories and that’s understandable. There of course is a time when the joint itself has been injured or allowed to deteriorate to a point that it will take help from a medical professional to heal.
But if you’re uncertain about the origins of your knee pain, this might just be the best place to start.
In the end, you will be better off if you take care of the issue now rather than waiting till it becomes unbearable.
If you’d like help understanding the root of your knee issues, we would love to hear from you. I will be taking 3 new clients into my Chain Reaction program this month and would love to tell you more about what that is and how it can help reduce your knee pain in as little as 6 weeks. Give us a call at 806-322-3188