Working with Knee Pain

Working with Knee Pain

Brandon Chien

 

Here’s how you can begin working with knee-pain and get stronger right now.

 

A common strategy for relieving knee pain is to begin losing weight. Doctors will tell you that if your knee has less load to bear, it won’t struggle. But the truth is, the muscles around your knee need to be gradually trained to function in a different way.

When you have knee-pain, it’s often from the muscles immediately around the knee doing the majority of the work to handle the weight of your body as it moves. The way the body is designed, however, is for an entire chain of muscles from the bottom of the foot to the waist to be cooperating in the work to move your body forward.

 

When your knee is moving well and pain-free, it’s because the muscles all around it, from your hip to your calf, work to equally distribute the load. So to heal your knee pain, we have to train the chain of muscles to cooperate again and share the load of work.

 

For instance, one of my students has discovered that her chronic knee pain (which began after a knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus) has been greatly eased by strengthening her hip flexors and glute muscles (dat butt). Years of massage and chiropractic helped her deal with the pain, but never resolved it or improved it. Now she’s doing deep-knee barbell back squats and knows to exercise her hip flexors when her knee hurts.

 

If you want to work on your knee pain, I have two exercises that you can try right now. They are a Narrow-Stance Deep-Knee Bend and the plié (wide-stance deep-knee bend). Let’s get into it.

 

The Narrow-Stance Deep-Knee Bend:

    1. Find an object to place under your heels (a yoga block or a book), and keep your toes pointed forward and 6-8″ apart.
    2. Hold your hands ahead of you to keep balanced, preferably squeezing another a block between your hands like you’re crushing a soda can.
    3. Bend both knees first while continuously squeezing the block. If this feels hard, simply put one hand on a chair to help with balance.
    4. Go as deep as possible, touching the back of the legs to the calves, in a controlled tempo of 2-seconds down, and 1-second standing up.
    5. Repeat until you have 1-2 reps left in reserve, meaning you feel like you could still do 1-2 more. At this point, take a short break and see how you feel.
    6. If after the rest, you feel like you can do another round, do so. If not, you are complete for now.

 

This exercise will grow your capability but it is also a diagnostic, meaning it helps you assess how your knees and legs are feeling today. If it’s easier, you have more readiness for movement. If it’s harder, you should use one or both of your hands on a wall and chair to push you up, and know that you’re having a “recovery day” instead of a “growth day.” (I will share more about recovery vs growth days and self-assessing for maximizing your personal training in the future.)

If you want to turn this exercise into a knee-strengthener, focus on tightening your chest and core muscles by squeezing the block hard before bending the knees.

 

 

The Plié (Wide-Stance Deep-Knee Bend):

    1. Start with your heels together and toes pointed out like wings. You will not need any props under the heels.
    2. Hold your hands behind your back, and lean slightly forward to balance yourself.
    3. Bend both knees until the backs of your thighs reach your calves, and your heels peels off of the ground slightly.
    4. Repeat until you have 1-2 reps left in reserve, meaning you feel like you could still do 1-2 more. At this point, take a short break and see how you feel.
    5. If after the rest, you feel like you can do another round, do so. If not, you are complete for now.
    6. If you try this and it feels fairly easy, hold a weight of 5-10lbs to add a bit of challenge.

 

This exercise is also a diagnostic, but can be turned into a strengthener by adding weight or by slowing way down on the descent and ascent, like taking 3-4 second to go down and 2-3 seconds to come all the way up.

So there you have it. You have two tools you can use today to begin taking care of your knees, and add a little exercise that will help you feel more confident in your body.

 

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.