Updated: Jul 30, 2021
When we have pain, we focus our attention on that body part. We ice it, wrap it, protect it, and avoid using it – and often we should-at least initially. However, when looking to truly resolve a painful injury we also need to look elsewhere.
Therefore, if you truly want to fully rehabilitate a knee injury that has occurred in the example above, you would need to treat the immediate symptoms. However you would also need to identify other areas that may be contributing. If they are, then these areas would need to be addressed in order to promote full recovery of injury, as well as prevention of a recurrence. There is more to the story however. Physical therapist just don’t look at individual muscles and how strong they may or may not be. To be truly effective in identifying potential problem areas contributing to injury, we need to look at how these areas work together.
Therefore, we want to look at what the body does in movement. Since we get injured with movement, it would stand to reason we want to evaluate what those movement patterns look like and where any deficits may lie.
This is why functional movement screening is an important part of both an injury prevention program, as well as rehabilitation programs. We want to be sure that all contributors to injury and pain are identified so they may be taken care of to make sure patients and athletes make a full and proper return to activity. Once these patterns are identified, then corrective programs can be set up to meet the individual’s needs and incorporated into their recovery.
One area that I see consistently a problem with knee pain and injury is weakness in the hips - particularly in the gluteus medius.
The gluteus medius sit at the side of our hips and are very important stabilizers of our pelvis and lower leg. Their job is to keep our pelvis level and to maintain proper positioning of our knees.
If the glutes are weak, they will allow the knees to fall inwardly (as if they were knock -kneed) and this puts a huge amount of abnormal forces on the inside of the knees.
The research also shows that this outside hip weakness contributes to a majority of non-traumatic ACL injuries- particularly in females.
One quick way to check if your glutes may be impacting your knee pain is to do a squat in front of a mirror, if your knees fall inward then you need to strengthen your glutes.
Our glutes become weak for a number of reasons, but one of the most significant I see in the clinic is prolonged sitting. Since many of us need to be on technology now more than ever, this weakening can happy slowly over time without us noticing.
When they become weak enough, the knees start to take the beating. You may begin to have knee stiffness and pain what to seems to be "out of the blue" when in fact, it has been sneaking up on you!
So what do you do if you suspect or discover your glutes are laying down on the job? I have put together an exercise sheet showing 8 of the best glute exercises that you can start doing today - no equipment needed!
Just go to the RESOURCES page, sign up and grab your free copy.
Just a doing a few exercises to strengthen your glutes can go a long way in taking pressure off your knees. Less pressure means happier knees and a happier you!
Stay Well & Feel Good,
Hi! I am Dr. Kim MacDonald. I am a physical therapist who specializes in empowering my patients to optimize how they move their bodies and improve their ability to do the things they love regardless of age, experience, or capabilities.
My experience in the health care field allows me to teach the tools you need to ensure that you are working safely to improve your pain and maximize your physical potential.
If you would like to know more about how you can help yourself be healthier and live a more active lifestyle, join me here.