We can experience knee pain for a variety of reasons. Some injuries will require rest, ice, compression, or further treatment from a medical professional. Most times, though, the mild pains we experience can be self diagnosed and treated at home. Using simple rehab/prehab exercises, as well as training all parts of your legs in a balanced plan, will help you prevent or eliminate most common causes of knee pain.
Step one is taking preventative measures.
- Foam roll daily, stretch, and do your mobility exercises.
- Train your hamstrings enough to keep up with all the work you give your quads. If the quads (front) of your leg pull harder than your hamstrings (back), then your joints may be pulled out of alignment in a way that could cause pain/injury.
- Develop strong VMO; this teardrop shaped muscle above your knee cap is responsible for your knee tracking straight. Try Poliquin Step-ups or Reverse Sled Pulls.
- Develop strong glutes and hip rotators. Everything is connected. Strong glutes and hip rotators will ensure that your knees don’t fall inward, and they will help you avoid the dreaded “knee valgus”. Try Clam Shells and DEEP SQUATS.
Step two is troubleshooting the problems that do pop up.
- First, try foam rolling and stretching. Again. Often, minor knee pain is being caused my muscle tightness or fascial adhesions that are pulling your knee joint out of its proper alignment. Unless you already know that you’re injured, try your foam roller. If your symptoms are relieved by 10 minutes of foam rolling, you’ll know that you’re dealing with pain caused by tightness; and not a traumatic injury. Roll, stretch, and rest for a day or two, but you’ll be back in action soon.
- If you have an injury, and not just tightness, you’ll need to rest. Stay off of your feet for long enough for the injury to heal. All injuries vary, but use this as a general rule of thumb:
- Strains: 3 days
- Sprains: 3 weeks
- Full Tears: 3 months
- When rehabbing an injury, it’s important to do more than rest. Apply ice for 15 minutes on/15 minutes off, every evening (full submersion works better than ice packs, if you’re brave). Elevate your leg when you rest, to aid circulation. Use a compression sleeve, crutches, or other equipment as needed throughout your day. Put some work into your recovery.
Step three is returning to full health after a knee injury.
- As you rehab, build back to full strength slowly.
- Regain full range of motion with gently progressive mobility work
- Then rebuild stability and introduce light weights
- Rebuild strength last