Knee pain is one of the most common conditions I treat. To fix it, I alter a lot of bad habits and reorganize the way my patients move in basic daily tasks. I wish that I was somehow able to go back 10, 20, 30 years and tell my older patients these 3 easy ways to protect their knees from pain. Knee pain may have a small genetic component, but it can be entirely prevented through using our movement systems as they were designed to be used.
1. Sit in a mechanically aligned position. Don’t cross your legs. Crossing your legs places the hip and knees out of alignment, causing certain muscles to stiffen (I’m looking at you, IT band) and other muscles to lengthen (the gluts). Any muscle imbalance around the hips and knees causes the knees to move in a faulty pattern. When sitting, make sure to keep your knees aligned with your feet. If your feet point outward, but your knees point straight ahead, you are likely twisting your knee joint.
2. Use good mechanics when getting up from a chair. Your knees should be aligned with your feet. As women, we tend to allow our knees to move together, or inward, when rising to stand and/or when sitting down. This causes relatively more pressure on the outside of our knees and stretches the ligaments on the inside of the knees, making the knee less stable. If you think about how many times we stand up and down in our lives, this can lead to enough wear and tear to cause knee pain.
3. Don’t hyperextend. When you are waiting in line in the grocery store, talking to friends after church, or doing dishes, unlock your knees. It may be tiresome to stand with your knees unlocked, but overtime it will become a habit and prevent your ligaments from getting so loose that they lose the ability to truly stabilize your knee.
Share with all your friends lest you want to spend retirement writing “Get well soon” cards for everyone who had knee replacements.