One of the most common questions I get around the topic of Knee Pain is “How do I do a proper squat?”, which I’ll elaborate on more in my next blog.
But today I want to talk about THE ONE THING you don’t want to do, especially when exercising…if you want to avoid Knee Pain.
This ONE THING just happens to be a very important part of a proper squat, which is why I’m starting here!
So, what is it?
DO NOT let your knees move left or right with activities like squatting, lunging or stepping up or down.
Let me explain how you can test yourself to see whether or not your knees move left or right.
Squat down a few times as far as you can without pain or go up and down a flight of stairs.
Watch your knees closely!
Did your knees move a little to the left or right of your feet? Or did your knees stay in line with your feet?
HINT: Your knees should only move forward or backward (not left or right) and should stay in line with your feet.
Now, if you’re only squatting down one time to pick something up or rarely go up and down a flight of stairs…your knees can probably handle that strain.
However, if this is happening repetitively, as would happen during many exercise programs then all the structures around the knees (muscles, ligaments, cartilage and bones) take on excessive stresses that they’re not designed to withstand.
You guessed it…this leads to Knee Pain if it’s not corrected!
Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t usually stop there. When the knees move left or right of the feet this also puts excessive stress on the feet, ankles, hips and lower back.
This ONE THING certainly can cause a lot of problems!
So why do the knees move left or right with things like squatting, lunging or stepping?
Occasionally it’s something simple to fix like improper footwear, but most of the time the problem is related to tight muscles pulling the knee left or right or weak muscles not stabilizing a joint properly and allowing excessive movement in one direction or the other. Usually it’s a combination of both tight and weak muscles creating a poor movement pattern that can lead to a repetitive strain and pain over time.
The next question…
How can you avoid this and prevent the knees from moving left or right?
The easiest place to start is to start paying attention to what’s happening with your knees while doing these activities, especially when exercising, and work to keep the knees lined up over your feet. This will begin to change how your muscles are being used and you can gradually correct the tension and weaknesses driving the problem. The key thing to recognize is the change will happen GRADUALLY and for some this can be very frustrating, especially if you’ve already been suffering with Knee Pain for a long time.
If you’d rather take care of the problem the FASTEST way possible, working with a Physical Therapist who can help you identify which muscles are tight and which ones are weak is the best route. Your Physical Therapist can also teach you specific exercises to address your specific needs, which is important since not everyone with Knee Pain will have the exact same problem or muscle imbalances causing their pain.
Whichever route you choose, THIS ONE THING will be a very important part of helping you avoid Knee Pain now and in the future.
As I mentioned earlier, in my next blog I’ll be discussing more key elements of a proper squat to help you avoid Knee Pain while exercising or simply doing day-to-day tasks that inevitably require you to squat.
If you have any questions or need more help for your Knee Pain, please reach out to us. We’d love to help!
Call 503-744-0046 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Helping active adults overcome persistent aches, pains and injuries, so they can get back to the activities they love and improve their health naturally - without pain medication, injections or surgery."
Oregon City, OR
Dr. Julie Krueger