Oh, My Aching Knees
Chris Kolba PT MHS CSCS
Many suffer from knee pain. It can range from intermittent aching to severe debilitating pain. The symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, popping, difficulty with stairs, squatting and sitting for long periods. X-rays often reveal varying degrees of arthritis, but sometimes are normal.Barring traumatic injury many of the symptoms of knee pain can be attributed to muscle imbalances and faulty biomechanics. This leads to increased wear and tear and tendonitis from overuse. Through advanced study and greater understanding of biomechanics and functional anatomy we realize that most knee pain has nothing to do with the knee. The knee pain is a symptom, but the cause is usually elsewhere. Many times we have found the foot and/ or the hip to be the weak link. The foot and hip are both very mobile joints, while the knee is primarily limited to flexing and extending. The phrase “it’s all connected” is the central theme to human movement. For example, if the foot flattens out more than normal (overprontes) it will cause the knee to collapse more than normal towards the midline. This will put stress on the medial knee joint, compress the lateral knee joint, cause the knee cap to track off center and subject the muscles to work harder to try to control and stabilize through a greater range of motion. Another example would be tightness of the hip flexors and weakness of the gluteal muscles which are present in most people due to the fact that we sit a lot and sleep in the fetal position. We refer to this as “dormant butt syndrome”. When the hip flexors are tight they cause weakness in the gluteus maximus (the butt, tooshee, cannon or powerhouse) through a phenomenon called reciprocal inhibition (when one muscle is tight it causes weakness in the opposite muscle). The butt is a strong stabilizer/ motion controller of the lower extremity. When it is weak it also allows the knee to collapse into the midline placing more stress on the joint and soft tissue. Over time the knee is subject to more wear and tear and many of the symptoms of knee pain begin to creep up. So if your knee pain persists it is a good idea to seek out a knowledgeable professional to help you. Knee pain doesn’t have to put an end to your fun, if the right approach is taken.