Knee pain can often be a clinically tricky topic, because knees have a tendency to start hurting and continue to hurt for a very long time. Many practitioners fall into the mistake of looking solely at the knee for conditions that are non-traumatic and not beyond the knee itself. The knee relatively simple joint in its movement compared to other joints in the body, as its range is confined to a forward and backward movement with some small degree of rotation. When we compare that to joints like the hip and shoulder, the movements themselves are very basic
When dealing with knee pain, it is essential that you pay close attention to joints either side (ie. the hip and ankle), because faults in movement in these two areas can strongly relate to knee pain that’s unfamiliar.
Here are a few things to look out for if you have non-traumatic knee pain.
- Are there any conditions that you’re already aware of? Some people are born with conditions that may predispose them to knee pain. Most people beyond their teens will be aware of these conditions and will have management programs to keep themselves going with only small hiccups along the way (such as high riding knee caps or hip deformities).
- Hip weaknesses: Sometimes knee pain can be present when the muscles around your hip fail to provide support for the lower limb. This can lead to a mechanical disadvantage at the knee, causing a change in its normal movement patterns. In the below photo, you can see how the lack of stability in the hip can lead to these mechanical faults at the knee, ultimately leading to pain. A simple way to test this is to squat (single leg and with both legs) in front of a mirror.
- Ankle faults: Faults in the ankle, such as over pronation (aka, rolling in), can have the same affect as hip weaknesses. Ankle movements that compromise knee positioning can start to cause pain higher up the chain if left unattended.
Faults in both of these areas may be present without you feeling any pain or discomfort, but it often catches up with you at some point in your training life. Be sure to regularly check your movement health in the mirror or seek advice from a professional who can guide you in the right direction.