You’ve been trying to stay in shape and be healthy at home over the last 4 weeks. So, with limited equipment – you’ve started running, plyometric drills and lots of reps – a big change from your normal fitness routine. You’re finding your knees are achy and stiff – now what?
- Activity Modification
First, find the aggravating factor. I’ve heard many complaints over the last 2 weeks of anterior knee pain, after a bodyweight at-home session that includes lots of squats, lunges and jump squats/lunges. We’re not saying to stop working out – actually we’re saying the contrary, change up the workout. Perform less jumping, make the exercises harder by changing variables – time under tension, tempo, rest time, load. Bike, or go on a long walk to burn the same # of calories from running. Take up yoga or a structured mobility routine for a week. Here are some variables you can manipulate to exercise pain-free:
Exercise Type – bike, or take a long walk to burn the same # of cals as a run
Tempo – slow eccentric, paused squats
Rest Times – Decreased rest times
Frequency – Run 3 short runs of 4km vs 1 long run of 10km
Decrease base of support – 2 legs vs 1 leg
2. Work on the Weak Links
In many non-traumatic, cumulative stress knee injuries – the foot/ankle complex and the hip are to blame. The knee is the most common site for injuries in runners – with patellar pain and IT band symptoms being the most common. In both of these, the hips play a large role – as the muscles of the hip play a large role in controlling the position of your knee.
Don’t run to get fit – be fit to run.
Squats and Lunges are very quad dominant exercises – work on the muscles on the backside and your overall mobility. Add: Glute Bridges, Romanian/SL Deadlidts, Monster Walks, Single-Leg Squats. Work on core exercises – Paloff Press, Side-Plank, Star Plank, etc. Work on your mobility — 90/90s, Reverse SLR, Ankle Mobility, Foot Core exercises
3. Change Your Mechanics
Newton’s 3rd law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. “Ground Reaction Force” is the force that comes up through the ground, equal to the force in which we land. Based on this force, we can determine the moment arm = the distance from the force to the joint. The larger this force = the greater force (torque) on the joint.
Knee vs Hip Strategy:
Knee Strategy = large demand on knee extensors, as forces are controlled 50% knee extensors, 20% hip extensors, 30% plantarflexors
Hip Strategy = large demand on hip extensors – which are a much more capable muscle, 50% hip extensors, 25% knee extensors, 25% ankle plantarflexors
1. Trunk Flexion – leaning the trunk forward shifts the centre of mass forward – decreases the moment arm and thus, the forces (torque) on the knee
2. Hip Flexion – activates the posterior chain
3. Limit forward knee translation – helps to keep hip flexion and reduce stress on the anterior structures of the knee (Patellofemoral joint, Patellar tendon)
In order to do this, you must learn how to hinge – look out for our video on how to hinge next week!