“Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they are gone.” say the lyrics of the popular Baz Luhrmann song Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen.
Your knees are weight-bearing joints, with a complex structure designed to support their primary purpose – to keep you moving.
When something goes wrong, you’ll know pretty fast as we rely on them more than we realise and a problem impacts your day-to-day life pretty quickly. So this means we cannot escape the pain and that quickly affects day-to-day life.
Supporting your knee joints
– Injury or knee pain often occurs because the muscles supporting the knee are weak.
– Your knee is supported by two main sets of muscles: the hamstrings and the quadriceps (quad). Together they make up your thigh, the quad is front while the hamstring muscles make up the back.
– The vastus medialis (one of your quads) is the primary muscle responsible for knee extension and kneecap alignment. When it gets weak, this can cause serious problems.
– Strengthening these muscles will support your knee, reducing the stress placed on it.
Step-ups are good quad exercises for bad knees. They help increase power and coordination in your leg muscles. For this exercise, you will need an aerobic step bench or a staircase.
– Position yourself in front of the step and step up onto it with your right foot.
– Tap your left foot on the top of the step and lower it back. As you step up, your knee should be directly over your ankle.
– Repeat the movement with your left foot.
– Depending on your comfort with the exercise, you may add ankle weights.
Short Arcs exercise
These will strengthen the quad muscles without much knee movement. Repeat 10-20 times, 3x daily.
– Lie flat on your back or sit up with your leg horizontal on a flat surface such as a bed. Place a rolled up towel (approx 10cm diameter) under the knee.
– Pull your toes towards you and clench your thigh muscles. Slowly lift your foot up off the bed until your knee is straight (keep your knee resting on the towel). Hold for 3-5 secs and slowly lower.
As you get stronger, you can Increase the size of the towel under the knee or add a weight e.g. by wearing a shoe, or use a light ankle weight.
Exercises that involve excessive flexing, (e.g. full squats or leg presses) aren’t good for bad knees. High Impact activity such as jumping can also be tough on the knee joint. Walking is a good exercise for bad knees. Swimming (apart from the breast stroke) and cycling are also good, as they aren’t too strenuous or high-impact.
Simple exercises like wall slides can also help strengthen muscles if done regularly.
When you exercise, consider that you should include hamstring and quad exercises for bad knees.
How can I help?
If you are having or have had knee surgery, I can undertake some therapy to the site of injury as part of the hands-on treatment. I will also provide you with a variety of stretches, mobility exercises or strengthening exercises to address the tissues and joints around the injured area before and after. Post surgery, as well as hands-on, I may utilise other treatments including taping and dry needling to help restore normal range of movement to the lower body, hips and pelvis.
Arthritis in the knee
In older people, repeated attacks of knee pain are likely to be a sudden worsening of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis in the UK. Osteoarthritis causes damage to the articular cartilage (protective surface of the knee bone) and mild swelling of the tissues in and around the joints. Osteopathic treatment can do a great deal to reduce pain, ease swelling and improve mobility and range of joint movement.
Ann Nolan BSc (Hons) Ost
07949 936 534