Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Knee Pain Isn't Inevitable

Knee pain isn't inevitable as you age. Barring injury, how you use your knee with each step determines how wear and tear of use affects your body. The knee is a hinge joint designed to bend in a straight line. Knee strains and pains occur when the arc of the bend becomes twisted. The beginning of a twist starts with the foot pronating (or rolling inwards on the big toe side). Twisting the foot results in twisting the ankle which carries the stress to the knee. The knee will rotate inward. Repeating this movement throughout the 10,000 steps you take in a day can result in a repetitive strain injury.

If you're sedentary you take less than 10,000 steps per day. If you have a job that requires walking like a nurse or postal worker you'll be taking even more steps.
So what can you do to protect your knee as you walk?
  • Bend your knees slightly (keep a soft knee) with every step and while you stand.
  • When you're walking, concentrate on keeping your heel on the ground as long as possible (this discourages toe walking).
  • When you walk, concentrate on keeping your foot pointing straight ahead with every step and keeping the direction of your knee bend straight over the foot.
  • Keep your hips loose and rotating with each step.
  • Look for shoes that are stable such as an athletic shoe or walking shoe that bend easily in the forefoot.
  • Foot Orthotics help to guide your foot so that it doesn't pronate.
All of this may sound a bit complicated. At my clinic I coach clients to walk and stand so that they protect their knee joints. If you are unable to find a gait training specialist in your area, I suggest you find a friend to video you walking straight towards the camera and from the side. When you watch yourself on the video check the alignment of your leg bend and foot position.

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