I’m sure we’ve all been there, in the middle of an Olympic cycle or running cycle, super excited to PR the test at the end only to be derailed by knee pain. Knee pain is not uncommon within our sport but there are probably a few overlooked factors that can play a pivotal part in getting to the root cause of why the knee pain is recurring. Here are a few topics and some strategies you can try to remedy any flare ups.
Front of the knee limitations: Tension over the front of the knee can be a big limiting factor to full bending and comfort in the joint. There are a couple drills and skills we can try to alleviate this bottleneck for knee pain. Patellar cars – Imagine there is a clock over your knee cap. Twelve o’clock is towards your head and 6 towards your feet. Do ten reps of moving your knee from 12 to 6, ten reps of 3 to 9. Then a few reps of sweeping in a circle. The patella should have a pretty equal glide in all directions to allow full bending.
Hip extension pails and rails – Get a nice tuck of the tailbone before settling into the stretch. This actually allows us to get a proper hip stretch not just low back. The key is to only stretch in the confines of being able to breathe fully in and out, and be able to do great pails and rails isometrics. If you can’t do that it's too intense of a stretch. Pails – push into the bench contracting the quad. Rails –bring the heel barely off the bench, careful not too hard! Cramping is easy in this position.
Ankle stability - Lack of stability at the ankle is a common way to leak force and to lose the ability to create a stable base for the knee, a few easy drills are below.
Single leg clock reaches: Imagine you are standing at the center of a clock. Your goal is to stand on one leg and reach every number and come back safely. If you notice you can reach only a few inches from your base of support. Or one leg can reach much further than the other leg this is a great drill for you.
Floating heel split squat - This is a great set up to get yourself to form a great arch and active ankle. When you do your 8-10 split squats the heel should not drop down, keeping that arch active will teach you how to create a strong stable base.
Hip mobility limitations - It's often overlooked how much hip rotation has to do with getting into a full squat and not putting excess wear and tear on the knees. The two drills below are often big bang for your buck to help reduce pressure on the knees in a squat.
Seated Hip internal rotation lifts: Start by bracing the abs and setting the hands firmly against the ground. Do 8-10 lifts of the back leg as shown, nice and slow!!! This again may be a bit crampy.
Side lying hip external rotation: The picture below shows the set up, it is pretty easy to achieve. Again start by bracing and using the hands to create stability. Lift the foot off the ground as shown 8-10 reps with a nice pause at the top
These are a few great steps that you can take to address some up and down stream limitations of knee pain. If you have any specific questions please feel free to set up a free 15 minute consultation about your specific situation!
Dr. Will Trujillo AAFY Performance and therapy 303-562-4377