Struggling With Bad Knees
What can cause bad knees?
They crunch, they crack, they click. They snap, crackle and pop. Knees. Most of us couldn’t imagine life without them.
The knee is thought to be one of the strongest joints in the body because they take most of our weight. The knee is a type of synovial joint called a ‘hinge’ joint and, as a hinge does, it flexes and extends our lower legs.
There must be one of those statistics: 1 in 3 people have had knee problems. Can you honestly say that you don’t know anyone that hasn’t at some point, suffered with knee pain in their lives? Because our knees take so much weight and force, they are particularly susceptible to problems. There are a number of causes of knee pain, including but not limited to: sprains and strains, anterior knee pain (pain around the kneecap), menisci or cartilage damage, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, torn ligaments or tendons, bleeding into the joint, Osgood-Schlatter's disease, gout, and septic arthritis (infected knee joint). Don’t worry, we won’t be talking about all of these different conditions and whether or not you might have them. If you do have knee pain that is not subsiding, we would urge you to visit your doctor or physiotherapist. This blog is to help you protect your knees from further damage and help you strengthen them for future use.
According to the NHS, as you get older, you are more likely to experience knee pain. Likewise if you do lots of sport, you are more likely to experience knee pain. If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you fit into both of these categories: let’s face it, we’re all getting older. And, if you’re part of our gym cube community, it’s also likely that you do a fair amount of sport/physical activity. So what are we waiting for, let’s see how we can protect our knees from any further problems!
I’ve got sudden knee pain, what do I do?
There is always a reason why you have knee pain and it is usually linked to overuse, muscle weakness or muscle tightness. We can have a weak gluteus maximus (your buttock muscle) or piriformis (muscle underneath the piriformis). If these muscles aren’t strong enough to do the work they are meant to, they tighten the iliotibial band, pull on the knee and cause pain. We might have weak quadriceps (big muscle on the front of your legs), causing knee pain. Or we might have tight ligaments and tendons surrounding the knee joint, putting extra pressure on the knee.
To treat most knee pain, at the acute stage of the injury, the best thing to do is PRICE - protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Once the pain has subsided and you have an appropriate diagnosis, we recommend you amend your exercise programme to reflect stretches and strengthening exercises that might help with your knee pain.
A knee jerk reaction to pain – stretch and strengthen, obviously!
Muscles you may need to strengthen:
Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus as well as your piriformis (underneath the maximus).
Our Leg and Bum workouts with Sandra are fantastic at targeting these muscles. You must make sure that you take your time doing these exercises to maintain your form. Try doing the exercises in front of a mirror and make sure your knees are always aligned.
If you feel that your glutes are particularly weak, isolate them with our Summer Body Butt workouts.
Our Indoor Cycling classes will definitely give your quads and glutes a great workout too.
Muscles you may need to stretch:
Tight hamstrings can increase pressure between the kneecap and femur (long thigh bone), causing knee pain. Most people have tight hamstrings so don’t be afraid to stretch them!
Release tension in your iliotibial band by rolling down a foam roller or a tennis ball. Make sure the foam roller is rolling up toward the heart while your body moves down – encouraging the blood to flow the correct way. Again, watch your form with this one. Use a mirror to make sure your movements are smooth and even.
Other ways to protect our knees is to make sure we:
• Warm up before a workout;
• Stretch after a workout – particularly the muscles you feel you have worked;
• If you are embarking on a life as a fit, new you, don’t go all guns blazing, you will only regret it! Start slowly and gradually build the amount of exercise you are doing up. You’re less likely to get injured and therefore your new exercise regime becomes more sustainable;
• Make sure your shoes are in good condition. Don’t put off buying a pair because of the price. Your knees are important and you don’t want to damage them because you didn’t want to buy a new pair of shoes!
Should I avoid any exercises or workouts?
As mentioned above, at the acute stage of your knee injury, your main focus is PRICE. Only once the pain has subsided should you even consider doing exercise that involves your knees. When you feel you can return to exercise, start with stretches and fundamental core movements that will significantly enhance your general fitness and wellbeing, as well as some of those deeper muscles that are used to support your knees. Give our tone zone videos a go and see how you get on: https://www.gymcube.com/series/tone-zone. Once you feel comfortable and pain free after a few of these sessions, go on to target the specific muscles you need for that knee function as mentioned above.
We need our knees
Have you ever stopped to think, wow, my knee is clever?! Our knees are essential to almost all of our everyday activities: walking, running, sitting, standing, cycling, swimming and paragliding (isn’t that an everyday activity for you?!). Get a massage to relieve muscle tension and tightness; see a physio to get specific exercises that might help stretch and strengthen and, make sure you do them! Listen to your knees, listen to your legs, listen to your body. If it hurts, there’s a reason. Look after your body.