Knock on knee: Get back to doing!

Knock on knee: Get back to doing!

At Melbourne CBD Physiotherapy we think the poor knee gets a hard time don’t you? This joint has load placed on it constantly and is at the beck and call of what’s going on at the foot and hip. Get sore in the knee and it’s the knees fault right? Maybe not, so let’s hash this out a little further!

How does the hip impact the knee?

The hip can have a powerful effect on the knee, as it’s the most important joint in the lower limb. Think of it as the foundations in your house- you don’t want them to be weak!  The most common problem at the hip is a lack of gluteal muscle strength. These muscles help keep your hip centred and reduce the load on your knee while you stand, walk or run. Notice a difference between the photos below? The left image is the typical ‘weak hip’, causing the knee to collapse inwards (‘knock knees’), which can lead to irritation of the patellofemoral joint (i.e., knee cap) and surrounding structures, resulting in knee pain. Hence, it’s important to address any control or strength issues at the hip joint when tackling knee pain.

How does the foot and plantar complex impact the knee?

The knee is often referred to as the “meat within the sandwich” as it lies between the hip and foot. So while the hip has a powerful effect on knee symptoms, a flat foot can lead to a ‘knock knee’ position as highlighted above. This could be addressed through footwear, foot taping, orthotics or simply some foot and ankle strengthening exercises, but it’s an important consideration in the context of knee pain.

Does this mean I should ignore my knee?

Absolutely not! Often as a result of symptoms we adopt or modify our movement patterns. By ignoring symptoms there is potential for:

– Focal load on the knee structures
– Loss of muscle mass (Quadriceps)
– Restriction in range (bending or straightening the knee)
– Decrease in capacity for activities of daily living
– Potential symptoms in other structures (hip)

By completing a Melbourne CBD Physiotherapy guided strength and neuromuscular control program you can address and improve:

– Increase specific muscle fibres in the quadriceps that help absorb load
– Improve the range in the knee joint
– Increase the capacity for load, and in turn increase capacity for activities of daily living
– Learn to distribute load evenly throughout the joint
– Help distinguish the difference between exercise and pain symptoms
– Significantly decelerate structural change

Fun fact: Did you know quadriceps absorb up to 60% of your loads when you walk, jog or run?

Will strength training wear my joints out?

This is a common myth we often hear. The lower limb is responsible for absorbing approximately 1-3 times bodyweight between walking and running- so you need your muscles to be strong! For instance, the quadriceps as pictured above provides about 60% of load absorption during daily tasks, and if they’re weak, these higher loads distribute to the knee joint often leading to pain. The moral of the story- regular strength training is important for optimal knee health!