Knee Pain | The Easy Fix

Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix. Hydrate before, during & after exercise.

Suffering From Knee Pain?

According to the Centres for Disease Control & Prevention, nearly 1 in 2 people may develop knee pain from symptomatic knee osteoarthritis by age 85 years. Are you experiencing knee pain? Well you’re in luck. The knee is actually easy to rehabilitate.

Why? Because integrity of the knee joint is based almost solely on the surrounding musculature.

This as soon as you feel the knee pain, get help! If you catch it early, it’s an easy fix. By strengthening the all the musculature that crosses the knee joint, you can stabilize your knee. It’s that simple.

Regardless of what’s going on inside your knee joint. Regardless of whether or not you’re waiting for surgery. If you can do any or all of the following strengthening & stretching exercises pain-free, then you should be doing them. Three times per week!

The Gastrocnemius Muscle

The Gastrocnemius crosses the knee joint. It attaches right above the knee at the back. This is a very strong muscle & offers incredible stability to the knee joint.

This muscle can almost always be strengthened pain-free. This is because the knee stays straight & no stress is placed on the joint. Many times, just this single strengthening exercise has chased away a client’s knee pain!

Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Gastrocnemius muscle

Calf (Gastrocnemius) Strengthening

  • This exercise is best done on a bottom stair
  • Hold your core tight
  • Draw your shoulder blades together slightly
  • Place the balls of both feet on the stair with the rest of your foot hanging over the edge
  • Keep your knees straight
  • To protect your Achilles Tendon, strengthening in full range of motion is a must. Push yourself to lower your heels as far as possible & raise your heels as far as possible
  • Work your way up to 30 repetitions
  • Once you can do 30 repetitions, switch to strengthening one calf at a time
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Gastrocnemius strengthening. Drop your heels as low as you can.
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Gastrocnemius strengthening. Raise your heels as high as you can.

Calves (Gastrocnemius/Soleus) Stretch

When you strengthen a muscle, you should stretch it immediately afterward. You should feel this stretch on your calf.

  • Heel on ground, toes up on wall
  • Keep knees straight
  • Keep eyes level (any movement of the inner ear will cause a slight contraction of the calf muscle as it is part of the postural muscle group)
  • Hold for one minute by the clock (each side)
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Calf stretch. This is easier with shoes on.

The Hamstrings Muscle Group

The hamstrings consist of three muscles that run down the back of the leg. All three cross the knee joint. They attach below the knee on either side of the leg. Strengthening this muscle will help to stabilize the knee joint.

Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
The Hamstrings muscle group

Hamstring Strengthening

  • Lie on your back with your feet up on a stool or chair
  • Your hips & knees MUST stay at a 90 degree angle
  • Arms down by your sides
  • Hands in fists to protect your finger joints
  • Hold your core tight
  • Lift your buttocks & lower back up off the ground
  • Ease yourself back down slowly
  • Almost touch the ground, but don’t. No resting. Raise yourself back up.
  • Work your way up to 25 repetitions
  • When you can do 25 repetitions, do this exercise one leg at a time. So with one leg on the stool & the other leg straight up in the air!

Warning: if you feel any pain in your knee, stop this exercise immediately.

Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Hamstrings strengthening (start)
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Hamstrings strengthening (finish)

Hamstring Stretch

When you strengthen a muscle, you should stretch it immediately afterward. You should feel this stretch on the back of your thigh.

  • Straighten one leg
  • Reach toward your ankle, allowing your hand to rest comfortably on your leg
  • Keep your lower back straight
  • It’s easy to gain more movement from rounding out your lower back. Never do this! This alone can cause lower back pain. Instead, bend forward from your hip.
  • Keep your knee straight, but soft (do not press the back of your knee down into the carpet)
  • Hold for one minute (by the clock) on each side
LEONG Orthopaedic Health
Hamstrings stretch

Modification: Place firm pillow under your bottom

Warning:

  • Keep your lower back straight & untwisted at all times.
  • Ensure your weight is placed equally on both sides of your bottom.

Hamstring Stretch (alternative)

If you have difficulty keeping your back straight, this might be a safer alternative:

  • Lying on your back
  • Place your bottom near a corner wall
  • Place one leg up the wall, keep your knee straight, but soft (this is the leg you’re stretching)
  • Leave your other leg out straight on the floor
  • Adjust your positioning in relation to the corner wall & stretch the other leg
  • Hold for one minute (by the clock) on each side

This allows you to gain that stretch on your hamstring, but not round out your lower back. This alternative is a must for folks who have a naturally flat lower back (instead of the normal concave curve that we call lordosis).

The Quadriceps Group

Many folks who exercise strengthen only their quadriceps & miss out their hamstrings & calves. Their Quadriceps get strong but the opposing muscles, the hamstrings & gastrocnemius do not. This is a muscle imbalance!

If the Quadriceps are pulling the joint out of alignment, then the two ends of the knee joint will not fit together congruently. This causes wearing of the cartilage in the joint & eventually knee pain.

It’s really important to strengthen all three muscle groups. The Gastrocnemius, Hamstrings & Quadriceps work best together as a team to stabilize the knee.

Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Quadriceps muscle

Quadriceps Strengthening

  • Hold your core tight
  • Draw your shoulder blades together slightly
  • Stand with your feet pointing forward & shoulder width apart
  • Very quickly drop your knees into a quarter squat
  • Straighten up & repeat
  • Work your way up to 30 repetitions.
  • Once you can do 30 repetitions, switch to strengthening one leg at a time whilst holding onto the wall for support
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Quadriceps strengthening (start)
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Quadriceps strengthening (finish)

Warning: ensure that your knees stay behind your toes! Otherwise, too much stress is put on the knee joints.

Quadriceps Stretch 

When you strengthen a muscle, you should stretch it immediately afterward. You should feel this stretch on the front of your thigh.

  • Snug your shoulder up against the wall to increase stability
  • Grasp your ankle or foot & pull it up behind your buttock
  • Ensure your knee is pointing directly at floor
  • Make sure you do not feel this in your lower back
  • Hold for one minute by the clock
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Quadriceps Stretch

Warning: Ensure that your foot is directly behind your bottom – do not twist or torque knee.

Quadriceps Stretch (alternative)

You should feel this stretch on the front of your thigh.

  • Lay on your side with a straight & neutral spine
  • Cradle your head on a bent arm & to ensure your neck remains in neutral
  • Bring your bottom leg up in front at a 90 degree angle to ensure stability
  • Grasp your ankle or foot & pull it up behind you keeping your leg parallel with the ground
  • Your eventual goal is for your upper leg & body to be in a straight line
  • Hold for one minute by the clock
Knee Pain | The Easy Fix
Quadriceps Stretch

Warning: Ensure that your foot is directly behind your bottom – do not twist or torque knee

Best of luck with your knees!

Please Note:

No one body is the same as another – bone structure dimensions differ vastly requiring the muscles, tendons & ligaments to be different lengths & attach at slightly varying angles. To gain the most success from the above exercises, make an appointment with your physiotherapist or massage therapist & ask them to lead you through an inaugural session & make the appropriate modifications unique to you.

– LEONG Orthopaedic Health

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