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SportsMed News

Exercise to Decrease Your Knee Discomfort

May 11, 2016

Knee pain is common. The issue is often ignored and left untreated until it interrupts daily life. Don’t ignore early signs of a knee injury! Instead, learn how to exercise to decrease your knee discomfort.

Resting your knee is usually a good idea. If something hurts, either stay away from the activity that caused your pain, or rest entirely. There is a better way to manage knee discomfort, and it involves rest, but more importantly involves working the joint the way it was intended to be used.

Modern society is highly sedentary. Such a lifestyle leads to bone loss, muscle shortening and inactive or dormant muscles. It also decreases joint range of motion (ROM), flexibility, and energy levels. Many times, stiffness in joints and muscles leads to pain or injury once movement occurs; which in turn leads to less movement.

Human bodies were intended to run, climb, hunt, gather, pull, push, and fend off predators. They were not made to click a mouse behind a screen. Hunting is foreign for most of us, and our version of gathering is picking unripe fruit from the local grocery store. It is even possible to never leave the house and instead have all our needs met through one day delivery.

Your body will change to adapt to any consistent situation, and that is an amazing ability. Originally meant to make us stronger, it has now started to work against us. If you play sports, your joints and muscles will become strong and flexible to be able to throw a ball. However, if you sit most of the time, your body will shut off inactive muscles and tighten others. Most fall into the latter group, but the good news is you simply need to start moving more to undo the tightness and inactivity of your muscles.

Moving properly is a skill, and one most have lost. We need to learn to move the way our bodies were meant to. By doing so, we can prevent unnecessary stress, especially on the knee. There are certain exercises to avoid, but you can slowly work on your ability to do them!

The squat is a common exercise many people avoid. But as it turns out, the actual act of squatting is fundamentally necessary for our lives. If you ever sit down on a chair or toilet and get back up again, you squat. In fact in places like Japan, Thailand, China, Kenya, and countries in the Middle East, squat toilets are common. In the US, every time we intend on squatting, a chair or toilet gets in our way. We have essentially untrained our bodies to squat and with that have weakened our knees.

How Do You Squat to Help Knee Discomfort? Follow this step by step guide:

  1. Position your feet under your shoulders and point the toes straight(ish). It’s ok to point your toes outwards a little for comfort.
  2. Push your hips back while bending your knees. (like sitting onto a chair)
  3. Keep your chest out and your feet flat on the floor.
  4. When at the bottom, push through your heels in to the ground and stand up.
  5. Squeeze your butt at the top of the movement. Along with your core, you should remain in a tight position.

If you are new to squatting, be sure to modify the movement to keep yourself in check, and keep reps/sets low. If squatting does cause pain, try this variation:

Box Squats

Box squats are great for learning to properly engage your quads on the lowering portion of a squat. Box squats are done by using a box or chair to limit how far you go down. This allows you to focus on improving your strength in a limited range of motion and gradually increase it over time. To start off, go down only as low as you can to still feel your quads. As you improve, go lower.

Keep in mind that if an exercise feels too easy, it probably is. If you feel knee discomfort, back off a bit, and let your body ease into the workout. It will take time for your body to adapt and the process should not be rushed. Once you start moving you will feel better. If you have knee discomfort, do not shy away from exercise, go towards it. If you are apprehensive, ask us for help – we’ll be happy to guide you as you get stronger.

In need of Knee Injury Rehabilitation? Schedule an Appointment Today!

If you have any questions, or want a consultation with a professional, feel free to call, or schedule an appointment online at any of our Bergen County or Passaic County offices in New Jersey. Choose from Glen Rock, Franklin Lakes, Fair Lawn, Ridgewood/Ho-Ho-Kus, and/or Clifton – we make it possible for you to visit any of our offices at your convenience.