Addressing Knee Pain
by Brooke Smith, PT, DPT
AzOPT Clinical Co-Director
The knee is a very mobile structure that relies on surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments as well as the joints above and below to provide stability. When those joints are not working properly – that is to say they are either not as flexible or strong as necessary – then the knee compensates. This can lead to motor control and mechanical issues.
When this happens, your body will naturally transition and create compensation patterns without your conscious awareness. This is great over a short period of time; however, when these compensations last a longer period of time, you will begin to experience pain. Pain is the body’s warning signal that something is wrong and needs addressing.
Knee pain arising from these compensations affect the overall time to reduce your pain levels. We have to reteach our body how to properly move. Your body and muscles have to activate the correct way to prevent further pain.
So how do you know if this is the cause of your pain? Or, if you don’t have pain, how can you prevent this from occurring?
Here are some quick home assessments:
Hip 90/90 Rotation
Sit on the ground with one leg 90 degrees in front and the other 90 degrees behind. Both knees should be able to touch the ground without much discomfort (switch for each side).
Closed Chain Ankle Dorsiflexion
Place one foot a little over 1 fist length away from the wall. You should be able to touch your knee to the wall without lifting the foot/heel.
Single Knee to Chest
Keep one leg flat to the ground. You should be able to pull the other thigh towards your chest to touch without the other leg lifting from the ground.
If you have difficulty with any of the three above assessments, focus on increasing repetitions and length of each stretch while focusing on form. Other quick or easy stretches to add into your daily routine include:
While lying on your back with both knee bent, cross your affected leg on the other knee. Next, hold your unaffected thigh and pull it up towards your chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Get on knees facing away from a wall. Lean forward and put one knee against wall, on a pillow for padding if needed. Lean on hands and get opposite foot up into lunge position as shown in picture. Squeeze the glut and push hips forward.
In a staggered position place the right toes against the wall and the right heel on the floor. Straighten the right leg and lean your weight towards the wall until some discomfort and release. Repeat with the left.
If you have pain and are unsure of the root cause, contact your closest AzOPT physical therapy clinic to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed Doctors of Physical Therapy to determine further course of action and treatment.