Are you trying to figure out what is causing the pain on the outside of your knee, like Melinda?
Melinda called me worried about knee problems that she'd been suffering with for months. Melinda’s left knee would ache when she sat longer than 30 minutes. Then when she stood up to stop the discomfort would limp for 3 or 4 steps before she could walk normally. She said her knee just didn’t feel right when she first stood up but it would work itself out after a few steps.
She called me because she started to have difficulty going up stairs and was having to walk down the stairs sideways. Not being able to go up and down the stairs was interfering with her ability to do house work. She was willing to deal with not sitting or standing for long periods of time. However, now she couldn’t do her normal house work without help from her husband and kids. This was causing a lot of stress and resentment in her family.
Running has a bad reputation especially as we get older. But really running is an amazing workout! And when done correctly with the proper conditioning it is completely safe. I have helped train a 99 year old to complete a 1 mile down hill run. So Age is not the issue!
But all jokes aside, running is a very intense activity. You are basically doing a single squat over and over again. Lots of people start running as adults to lose weight or get back into shape. And this is why many people struggle with running injuries. They don’t realize that running is not the entry-level exercise. Running requires a lot of strength that we don’t think about. For instance, when was the last time you stood comfortable on one foot? How comfortable are you doing squats?
I remember Sally’s face when I asked her those questions. She looked at me like I was crazy. “Why would I stand on one foot? I don’t like squats because they hurt my knees.” Were her answers.
Sally called me because her back hurt when she ran and she was scared she herniated a disc.
While I was pregnant with my first baby, I remember the first time I noticed a random bubble that popped out of the front of my stomach when I moved. I don't remember how far along I was but I had a good sized belly and when I pulled myself forward from the back of my chair I saw my stomach change shape. At first I thought it was hilarious because it looked like an alien was popping out of my stomach. Eventually, I realized that the bubble was happening because my stomach muscles had split to make room for my baby; I had Rectus diastasis. So I stopped intentionally making the alien pop out for the remainder of my pregnancy. Once my son was born, I really wanted the alien to go away quickly. For some women your stomach muscles spontaneously heal and everything goes back to normal. However, for some of us that separation needs a little help to go away.
I was sitting at a park one day and started chatting with this mom, whom I’d seen before but never really talked to before. When Donna found out I was a physical therapist she stood up quickly and asked me “Do I walk like a duck?” Then she did a runway walk so that I could see how she walked.
Donna went on to tell me that she’s been super paranoid about how she walks since her oldest son told her she walks like a duck. “I’m not really sure why it bothered me so much. He said it several weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it.”
I told her of course that hurt your feelings. But why did he say that to you? Was he pointing out that you walk with your feet pointed out? She said “yes, that and he told me I waddle side to side.” (Aren’t kids great 🤦♀️)
I told her many people walk with their feet turned out is this new for you? Have you been having pain in your feet or your knees? After the second question she gave me an odd look like how did you know that? So I told her many people with foot or knee pain will change how they walk to avoid the pain. At the end of the day my feet are achy. I’ve noticed that I don’t like to sit for longer than 30 minutes because my feet start to really hurt. My knees have kind of always been an issue but they don’t stop me from doing anything. So, I just ignore them.
Walking with your feet turned out isn’t necessarily a problem. However, when you have knee pain and foot pain that you notice every day and it's changing how you do things, that means that there’s something going on in your joints. That pain means that there is some uneven wearing in your joints which is what causes arthritis. So I think what your son is noticing is that you’re changing how you walk to avoid pain.
Several weeks after that conversation Donna ended up calling me and scheduling an evaluation just to see what might be possible to do. She was still more concerned about the waddling than anything else.
When she came for the evaluation I was able to show her how her hips, knees and ankles all worked together. She was able to feel how some muscles and ligaments were tight which caused her to change how she had to walk. After just a few weeks, Donna was shocked that she was able to sit for longer than 30 minutes without her feet hurting. Her knees didn’t hurt as much walking up and down the stairs. She was shocked because she had just been living with these mild aches and pains for years thinking it was just part of being her age.
Donna told me that she has more energy throughout the day to play with her kids; even her oldest son.
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About a week ago I was driving my kids to school. As I was getting ready to make the left to get out of our neighborhood,look right then left. When I moved from right to left my neck made a loud cracking sound. The crack didn’t hurt but boy was it loud. Then later that day my neck felt like it needed to be popped again. This told me that I've been slacking on my neck exercises.
My work and personal life can get very stressful at times. The kids will have multiple school projects, which of course happen the same time my work picks ups. It's hard to maintain ideal posture while meeting deadlines, let alone make the time to exercise and stretch daily.
If you are wondering why I care about my neck cracking occasionally. I know that even if the crack or pop doesn’t hurt it’s telling me that my neck is not stable. If my neck just cracked once then I wouldn't be worried. However, the fact that I was getting the sense that my neck needed to be cracked several times in one day tells me my neck strength is not good.
Over time if your neck is not strong it will develop arthritis or you will develop a herniated disc. The crack is simply the sound of your neck bone adjusting itself back into place, so the sound is not “bad”. But it tells you one of your neck muscles is pulling that bone out of place several times throughout the day. That constant shifting is what causes the wear and tear on your neck.
Have you ever had pain in your forearm after a long day of typing? Maybe the pain started as a little soreness that you ignored, then slowly over time the pain started to become achy all the time. The ache started to affect your hand and arm strength. You had difficulty cooking and holding the laundry basket. Then your hand starts to go numb. That's when you decide maybe I can’t ignore this anymore. I mean anything that’s going numb and you can’t hold on to things that can’t be good, right? So now you’re on Google, which tells you that you have anything from tendinitis to carpal tunnel. And neither one of those words sound good. The google search leads you to the doctor for more answers. The doctor says to take this medication, try stretching if it doesn’t get better then they'll refer you to an orthopedic surgeon. Just the mention going to an orthopedic surgeon has your mind reeling. Anything that needs somebody with the title surgeon is not good. So now you go home and you really stop using your hand because moving hurts and this pain is so bad now that you might have to have surgery. Over the next several weeks pain just gets worse from not moving it and the exercise the doctor gave you on the paper, it doesn’t get better. What do you do now?
I bet that if you sit at a desk for the majority of your day you’ve had at least one episode of pain between your shoulder blades. It typically starts as a dull ache but by the end of your day it’s so nagging you can’t move your head or your arm without aggravating it more. Eventually it feels like somebody is sticking you with a hot poker right between your shoulder blade. I don’t know about you but when I’ve felt this pain it was so bad that I thought “If I get that corner on the spot I could dig it out myself.” Then I spent an embarrassingly long time trying digging the corner of the wall into the painful spot between my shoulder blade and my spine. And even after bruising myself the pain was still there. It hurt when I let my arm hang by my but it hurt if I held my arm up too high. When I turned my next a certain way and if I didn't sit exactly right I would feel that searing pain between my shoulder blade and my spine. And of course it was on the right side since I’m right handed and I had to move my right arm all day.
By the time you’re 40 year old you have at least one episode of back pain and unfortunately once you’ve one episode there is a high likelihood the back pain will return.
This is why one of the most common questions I get is why does my back hurt when I bend down?
Sammy is a 42 year old mom of 3 who started to have back pain at the end of her day. She didn’t think much about the back pain when it started, about a year ago, it was just a mild ache at the end of the day. She just stretched a little bit and by the next morning everything was fine. After a few weeks she started taking ibuprofen at the end of the day to get rid of the pain because it started to interrupt her sleep.
Slowly over time she wasn’t able to find a comfortable sleeping position; she tried to use a pillow to adjust herself at night with minimal relief. As she thought about all the times her back hurt she remembered it she stopped playing on the floor with her kids because her back hurt too much. Her back pain was like a new friend that just hung around all the time and was part of every aspect of her life.
First you are 100 % right not to do an exercise that causes a joint to pop. It’s awesome that you’re paying enough attention to your body to realize something isn't’ right. I’m glad you’re looking for ways to resolve the pop in order to strengthen your abdominal muscles. (As I pointed out I know many people don’t Iike abdominal workouts.) There can be several reasons your hip will pop while doing abdominal exercises, specifically when lifting both legs at the same time.
Having a workout partner is amazing. Good workout partners push you to be stronger, they help you keep good form, they help you stay motivated on your health journey. And you both get to celebrate y’all wins and encourage through y’all challenges.
But sometimes your workout buddy gets to be the person that annoys you enough to see the doctor that you’ve needed to see for months. At least that’s how Kay’s story started. Kay has been working out with her workout buddy for years. During the pandemic they started to walk nightly. A few months into the pandemic Kay started to limp because the back of her knee hurt when she walked.
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald