One of the biggest issues we see with new clients is sore, aching, painful knees. In fact, it’s our ability to help fix painful bodies that is what we have built a large part of our business on.
One of the biggest reasons people end up with sore joints is due to tightness, or limited range of motion. For example, the body is designed to go into a full squat position and when you don’t reach the end ranges of your flexibility in a movement like this, there is repetitive insult to a tissue and furthers a diminishing range of motion to the joints involved in this movement. Like the knees.
So, our first step is regaining your full range of motion.
One of the tools we use to accomplish this is with advanced soft tissue treatment. Like Active Release Techniques.
Second of all, you need to gain/regain strength
Using a larger percent of your maximum strength in activities increases the repetitive strain. But, in the case of rehabbing joints, gaining strength is important, but gaining strength in the right ratio’s is even more so. If we take the knee for example, we have several different structures to look at. We have the knee cap and the attached patella tendon and ligament, we have the cartilage, the meniscus, the collateral ligaments, the cruciate ligaments, the muscular attachments for the quadriceps, the hamstrings, IT band and the calves.
The anterior cruciate ligament is usually damaged in knee hyper extension and with knee valgus (knee rolling in). The eccentric strength, that is, the ability to resist lengthening of the hamstrings is protective of the ACL. The strength of the vastus medialis, the teardrop shaped muscle around the knee, prevents the knee from rolling in.
What protects the meniscus is the two donut shaped tissues that sit in the joint, protecting the top and bottoms sections from shock, which is helped with increased eccentric strength of the quadriceps.
If we neglect these strength qualities, but over develop others, we can increase the risk for injury. So stronger is not always better. Stronger in the right places is. For example, in the variations of the step up, the higher the step, the higher the emphasis on the leg. Since, when rehabilitating/prehabilitating the knee, we want strength around the knee joint, it would be wise to start with a small step. Two of the best exercise for strengthening the knee joint are the Poliquin and Petersen step ups, which we use extensively in our programs.
So in closing, 3 steps to reduce pain in the knee joint after trauma;
1) Get some soft tissue work to eliminate scar tissue and re-establish tissue length
2) Train your quadriceps, especially your VM, with exercises like the Poliquin and Petersen Step ups.
3) Train with a full range of motion once the joint is pain free and healthy, to keep it that way. For example, a well-rounded routine for the legs might include split squats, leg curls, step ups and back extensions, which should train the knee joint in both stretched and contracted positions.
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If you want to see some of our other articles on preventing and rehabbing knee issues check these out!