My kids love being outside. My daughter will hand you her shoes with a very determined look to let you know you are going for a walk. She’s 1.5 y/o and can make it about a quarter of a mile before asking to be carried. And because my son “is a big boy now” he practically runs the whole quarter mile loop just to make sure he beats his sister. Pre- pandemic we would never see anyone out and about in the neighborhood. Since the quarantine we see neighbors out all through the day and evening. It's wonderful! You get to at least see if not meet your neighbors.
During one of our walks I saw a woman walking briskly ahead of us on the sidewalk. Then all of a sudden she stopped and rubbed her right knee. Then after a few more steps she stopped again, stood on her left leg bending and straightening her right leg while on her knee. She was obviously trying to figure why something was hurting just below her kneecap was hurting.
I thought about asking her what was wrong...but then thought some random stranger giving her advice is weird to say the least.
But that made me think about some of my patient’s that have been in their 60 and 70s about to have or just coming out of knee replacement surgery.
If many of them had simply been shown this one stretch...then they could’ve avoided surgery.
This woman going for a brisk walk in my neighborhood looked to be in her 40s or early 50s. If she was someone that came in to see me...I could ask her where on or in her knee did it hurt? When did her knee hurt? And what was her knee stopping her from doing? Or if her knee didn't stop her from doing anything, what was she doing when her knee was more noticeable?
But based on what I saw she was having pain below her kneecap and she was not able to walk briskly because of that pain.
I can imagine she was walking to improve her physical health but sometimes people walk for mental and emotional health. And now her knee hurts which can cause all sorts of other stress and lead her to believe she just has back knees.
Knee pain is a common problem. I hear all the time about how people start walking to improve their health only to have knee pain in the front or just below their kneecap. By the time they see me they’ve tried knee braces, pain creams, and then they just stop walking.
But if they had just known about this one stretch that would’ve loosened up their thigh muscle stopping their knee pain.
Most likely cause of knee pain this woman’s knee pain would be a tight thigh muscle. If she came to see me
I would show her this stretch, educating her on how the stretch should feel, how to know if she was stretching too aggressively, more is not always better. But most importantly, before she left my clinic we would look at her hip and ankle to get a full picture of how her knee works.
Pain is your body's way of saying “pay attention to me, something isn't quite right”.
This is why I alway look at more than just the one joint that hurts. To truly understand what is happening at your knee you need to also know what is happening at your hip and ankle. How do these joints move independently and with each other? That is how I find the root cause of knee pain.
So many people stop walking because of knee pain that creams and knee braces don’t stop. Because their doctors tell them they have arthritis they believe they just have bad knees. Fast forward 10 to 20 years as they are preparing for their knee replacement they are finally referred to physical therapy where they find out weakness in their hip was causing the knee pain. That was 20 years of walks with their family and friends. 20 years of vacation that could’ve been pain free.
If you would like more information on how to stop knee pain while walking go to this link for my EBOOK “10 Tips And Tricks To Stop Knee Pain From Derailing Your Fitness Goals! (No Brace, Medication, or Surgery required)”
If you would like to talk to a physical therapist about your specific knee problems click this link.
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