When was the last time you made or heard a complaint about knee pain?
For many of us, it is all too common: A byproduct of former athletic achievements, a long-since healed injury, or just the wear and tear from a lifetime of movement.
Your body places significant amount of strain on your knees even without an added element such as sport or exercise, and many people do not realize that the little mistakes we make when moving our legs on a daily basis can lead to significant knee pain and injury.
Before being able to prevent knee injury, it is important to understand what components actually make up the knee. Knee injury can occur not only in the bones and cartilage that build the knee joint, but also in the tendons and ligaments which surround the knee. To see a full explanation of knee Anatomy, click here.
With so many different parts, combined with our own assumption that our knees should twist, turn and move whenever and however we need them to, it is easy to image how offsetting one part may lead to pain throughout the knee.
I won't lead you into a long list of side effects and conditions that can result from the maltreatment of knees, but if you really want a deeper look into the potential conditions, take a look through the Knee1 Education Center for more info.
For now, I'd like to discuss a couple common mistakes we all make a some point, that can lead to knee pain and what you can do to prevent them. Whether you are one of those people who "would only run if they're being chased," a daily walker, or a seasoned athlete, these tips can be applied to your day-to-day activities.
Turning the feet out when you walk
Talk about getting off on the wrong foot! Walking is the most common activity we do that places stress on the knees, and bad footing can lead to injury throughout the ankles, knees, and hips, causing each part of the body to be increasingly off track from their correct position. In correct form, the toes should point forward, landing directly in front of the ankle. Turing the toes out (pronation) will cause the knee to roll inward.
The best way for you to determine if your feet pronate as you walk is to have someone else observe you as you walk across the room. However, it is important that you walk as naturally as possible, without consciously thinking about what the correct form should be. Closing your eyes as you walk may help this. (Just make sure you have a clear path ahead of you!)
How do you avoid this? Simply put- walk with your toes pointed forward whenever and wherever you walk. As a pronator, myself, I must say that it is easier said than done. The way we walk is not something we have been taught to do, and making a conscious effort to change this will probably take the most getting used to.
Allowing the knee to pronate, or roll to the inside of the ankle
As mentioned in the previous section, the knee will pronate if you step incorrectly. Yet, this is not the only factor that can lead to knee pronation. The action of bending the knee (when sitting down in a chair or squatting to pick something off the floor) may also cause this.
This is something you are able to observe on your own. Here's how:
Begin at standing position. Lower into a squat position, bending at the knees. As your knee bends, watch to see which direction the knee points. (If you are pronating, the knee will start to point to the inside of the ankle.)
How do you avoid this? Next time you bend the knee joint, think about countering the pronation by directing the knees toward the outer toes.
While these tips are not a guarantee against knee pain and injury, these simple changes can take you in the right direction for prevention. Making an effort to avoid these two common mistakes really will protect your knees from the ground up!