Knee pain is caused by one or a combination of these three main causes…
This is your classic “wear and tear” of the knee. As your knee arthritis progresses, bony spurs also develop in and around your knee joint in response to the change in load biomechanics.
Your meniscus is fibrocartilage that separates the femur (upper leg bone) from your tibia (lower leg bone). It acts as a shock absorber as we walk, run and jump so that these forces don’t damage the bone surfaces.
Each knee joint has a medial (inner side) meniscus and lateral (outer side) meniscus. The medial meniscus is more likely to be injured because it is firmly attached to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and joint capsule. The meniscus is commonly torn or injured when the knee is in a compromised position such as twisting on a slightly flexed knee. Natural age-related degeneration of the meniscus can also cause pain and limited range of motion.
Meniscus tear healing is dependent on the blood supply where the tear is. There are two “zones” that determine whether or not it will heal on its own.
Red Zone – The red zone has blood supply, which means it can naturally heal. The outer edge of the meniscus has blood supply from the joint capsule.
White Zone – This is where the meniscus doesn’t have much or any blood supply and won’t heal naturally. Due to this, the inner meniscus does not usually heal and can trigger an inflammatory response which can require surgical attention.
Pass or Fail? Did you hold the test for a full 2:00?
If you are able to maintain the position for two minutes, great job! It is likely that you have developed the proper range of motion through the knee and lower extremities as well as strength in leg muscles to avoid knee pain. If you were unable to maintain a deep squat hold for that amount of time, you could use some mobility and strength work to your legs and you are at a higher risk of developing knee pain.
Improving your score on this test is simple. Practice the deep squat hold and try to improve your time. Another simple trick is to hold onto something as this can help balance you out to pull down into the position. Even if you can only hold the position for a few seconds, that’s OK! Nowhere to go but up! Keep working on this along with the top 3 exercises for getting rid of knee pain and your knee strength and range of motion will continue to improve.
Lying on your back, bend both legs so your feet are flat on the floor. Tighten your abdomen and lift your hips up into the air squeezing your buttox. Hold this position steady and return to the starting position.
Suggested program: Repeat this 10-20 times holding for 5 seconds and do this 1-2x per day.
Lying on your side (doesn’t matter which one to start) with both knees bent to a 90 degree angle with hips and knees stacked on each other. Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee up without rotating the top hip back. Hold this position steady and return to the starting position.
Suggested program: Repeat this 5-10 times on each side holding for 10 seconds and do this 1-2x per day.
Sitting on the edge of a table with your legs hanging off the edge, place the double lacrosse ball under your hamstring (back of your thigh). Kick your leg out 4-5 times as long as you have no pain and then roll the balls up your hamstring. Continue until you cover the length of the hamstring and then work your way back down until time is up.
Suggested program: 2 minutes per each hamstring moving the balls every 5 reps, complete 1 time per day on each side.
Lying on your stomach, wrap a strap, belt or towel around your ankle and pull towards your butt until you feel a gentle stretch in front of your thigh. Make sure you are not arching your back as you pull your leg.
Suggested program: Hold for a 2 minute stretch, complete 1 time per day on each side.
Here are some quick tips to help you get rid of your knee pain fast no matter what the cause. These concepts are simple, but not easy. It will take some adjustment on your part, but it’s worth the investment.
The modern lifestyle has most of us moving less and less. Our economy has moved into knowledge work, meaning many jobs that require movement (physical labor) have gone away. So, we have to add movement into our daily routine to counteract our sedentary lives. This doesn’t have to be running 10 miles or going to the gym for hours on end. Simple solutions like a walk with your dog or other loved one, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or even parking as far away from the grocery store as you can are little changes you can make to add more movement into your day.
If you already have an exercise program that you are following, that’s great! Another way to increase your risk of injury is doing exercises incorrectly – seek out a trainer or physical therapist to make sure you are doing exercises in a safe fashion. This will also help you make gains quicker because you are actually targeting the right muscles. The biggie for the knees is don’t let them collapse inside your foot/ankle (go in towards each other) as you are getting up or down in any squat movement or when doing any step movement you follow the same rules.
If you know your symptoms worsen with prolonged inactivity – keep moving throughout the day. An easy habit you can build is to run your entire lower body through a full range of motion several times throughout your day using a bodyweight squat routine. Simply set a timer at home or work for 60 minutes. When the timer goes off, do 10 body weight squats. Do 10 squats every 60 minutes and you will have quite a few squats by the end of the day! Don’t over think things… just go from standing to squatting through as much range of motion as you can (get your hips as low to the ground as you can with your feet straight ahead, knees out) and stand back up! This low intensity full range of motion exercise keeps the joints flexible and strengthens the muscles you need to keep knee pain away.
Our Movement Script is a 28 day program to get you back to normal. It’s the prescription your knee has been looking for so that you can get back to doing all the things you used to do before you had knee pain. It’s made up of 3 main components – a mobility plan, an exercise plan and a behavior modification plan.