Steps to Fixing Knee Pain
Are you suffering from constant knee pain and looking for some help? This article is for you.
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Knee pain is an issue that millions of people struggle with on a daily basis.
If you look at the statistics, the numbers are getting worse.
Some of the most common reasons why you hear of people having knee pain are:
- overuse from repetitive actions
- traumatic injury
- patellofemoral pain syndrome
- ligament damage
Truth be told, there can be a lot of causes for knee pain besides the list above.
In fact, many suffer from knee pain due to simple things like lack of strength and mobility.
You would think that with the millions of people suffering from knee pain, there would be tons of research.
However, that is not the case. There is not a lot of proven research on the matter. In turn, because of this, for years the solutions to fixing knee pain have been bad.
Newer studies are guiding us on proper methods for repairing bad knees. Unfortunately, change takes time.
Causes of Knee Pain
Knee pain can be an issue from many sources.
The two less common reasons are trauma and chronic injuries.
While traumatic injury can happen to anyone, it’s rare. It is usually found in athletes who hyper-extend or suddenly tear a ligament. For instance, an ACL injury.
Logically, most understand that rest is your friend and not to keep doing what you were doing.
Chronic injuries are result of something not healing.
Usually this results in pain from time to time but not a constant issue.
The three most typical cause comes from repetitive strains.
Repetitive strains are typically found in athletes but can also be common in gym goers.
This happens when someone repeatedly does the same movements. Over time there are tiny strains or micro-tears in the location and these gradually get worse.
What starts out as a little issue becomes drastic within a moments notice.
There are usually no signs of injury and even no pain until one day you hurt.
Generally this comes from an unbalanced training regimen or a lack of rest.
This is due to repetitive actions leading to patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Fortunately, injuries from this cause are relatively easy to fix. Often it requires just some simple alterations to a routine.
What if you don’t play a sport and have not experienced repetitive injury or traumatic injury yet still suffer from knee pain?
Very simply you could be overweight. Obesity can be a causative of knee pain.
Lastly, there is one very common thing I see among my clients that suffer with knee pain. Often they are not overweight. They are generally in decent health. Often though, they don’t have muscle development.
Many people have little to no experience lifting weights or playing sports. The simple cause of their knee pain can come down to lack of strength in key areas.
Or, you could simply have a mobility issue. If you have a desk job all day, there could be other factors that contribute to the knee pain. For instance, tight hip flexors.
Common Solutions That Often Fail
When it comes to fixing knee pain, I often hear of three common answers.
One suggestion is that you lose some weight. If you drop a couple pounds you take the pressure off of your knees, thereby taking the pain away.
You may also hear of super foods or diets that claim to fix knee pain.
First of all, studies show that diet is not related to pain free knees.
Let’s throw that out of the window.
When it comes to weight loss, my answer is yes and no to that solution.
Granted, if you lose weight, you can help the situation. However, we are talking needing to lose a lot of weight for it to help.
Similar to how you can’t do 1000 crunches to lose belly fat, losing some weight does not fix one area.
Many will drop some weight and still suffer pain in the knees. Why?
The reason is that obesity creates inflammation in the entire body.
Losing a few pounds does not reduce the inflammation. You need to lose enough weight to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Plus, that does not necessarily fix the abuse the knees have taken over the years.
It is a step in the right direction but not a fix all.
Some will suggest you stop working out. Lifting weights is killing your knees. Often, it is that you need to stop doing squats.
Science disagrees with those statements.
Studies have shown that weight lifting does not cause degenerative issues in your joints.
Also, Duke debunked the squat myth a couple years ago.
If you look at how the squat works, you will actually find that sheer force is lessened on the knees when in the hole.
There is nothing proving that exercise is bad for your knees.
However, other factors could play a part in your weight lifting that could cause pain. We will discuss that in the how to fix sub-heading.
Lastly, we have surgery.
For many who suffer from things like osteoarthritis or other knee problems, usually the resort is to go under the knife.
That is not to say that surgery is all bad. It does work for some and in some instances, studies show it to be a good option. This is the case with say an ACL injury. Often surgery brings great results.
Surgery can often be a last resort though. There are many things you can do to improve your knee pain while keeping active in the gym.
How to Fix Your Knee Pain
The most obvious of it all, stop doing what hurts. Working out should cause soreness in the muscles but if you are in pain especially in the joints, stop doing whatever is causing the pain.
Change up your routine.
For instance, Bulgarian split squats are an awesome leg exercise and they are especially good if you suffer from knee pain. Instead of full squats, do your squats on a box for a few weeks.
Better yet, work on your pistol squat with a box. Then follow up with some high side step ups to mimic the bottom portion of the pistol squat.
Start spending a few minutes before and after each workout addressing mobility.
Before the workout you should be doing some muscle activation exercises to improve the entire lower body.
Some of my favorite things to do for warm up involves banded clamshells, athletic walking with bands, banded glute bridge.
If your knees buckle in during squats, wrap a band around them and force yourself to keep tension on the band while squatting.
If they go out when squatting, put a medicine ball in between your knees and squeeze the ball on the way down.
You may find that your body does not move properly during the exercise.
Stretch your hip flexors and get them ready to accept a full squat position.
After your workout do some foam rolling for your lower body.
While foam rolling is a hot topic because they are not 100% sure it is beneficial, it also does not hurt. You won’t make matters worse by foam rolling so why not try it and see if it helps you.
Another thing to consider is your form.
Surely if you have bad form while doing squats, it might be a good idea to lighten the load, work on technique, before adding weight.
Do you arch your back? Is your butt wink extreme? Are you sitting on your heels or toes? Do your heels rise at the bottom?
There are many ways that form could be the issue.
To fix bad form, my two favorite exercise is goblet squats in two variations.
Variation 1: Grab a heavy dumbell and hold it upright in front of you. Squat down until your elbows touch your knees and hold for 3 seconds.
Variation 2: Grab a 45 pound plate and hold straight out in front of you, then squat. The weight acts as a counter balance. Over time drop the weight to 25, then to 10, then to 5, and eventually to nothing. The better you get at your form the easier and less weight you will need to counter balance.
Lastly, work on strength.
People shy away from heavy compound moves because of the stigma that you are more likely to get hurt.
If you have good form, good mobility, injury is very unlikely.
Compound moves like back squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press should be the priority of your training.
My biggest reason for pushing these types of exercises is because they require a large amount of muscle groups.
By using multiple groups of muscles, you are naturally forcing your body to fix any imbalances. People spend so much time on isolation exercises and this is where imbalance happens most often.
Too much time is focused on a specific muscle instead of muscle groups and one becomes dominant.
With your compound moves, you want to lift 75-85% of your 1 rep max. Do 3 to 5 sets with 3 to 6 reps each.
Another key reason for this is the damage done to the body. When you lift in this range with this many reps, you are not training to failure.
You are training to hit each rep clean.
That means you are doing less damage to your muscles due to low rep range. However, because of the higher weight, you create more adaptation. You build muscle faster and you get stronger faster.
If you are suffering knee pain, don’t skip the gym.
Continue to work on your mobility, form, and vary up the routine to avoid pain.
Surgery can be option if really needed, but most of the time, surgery is a last resort.
If you are looking for a fitness program that can help you fix your knee pain while helping you to build muscle and get lean, then check out our online training programs.
With our programs, you will get a routine that blends heavy lifting, conditioning, and gymnastics that help you to be stronger, faster, and overall more athletic.