Do your knees hurt?
Let’s talk a bit about what might be going on.
But first, a short anatomy lesson.
In the human body, a joint is where two or more bones come together. We humans have about 230 of them! They have different ranges of mobility from no mobility, limited movement, and full range of movement. Joint action is classified by type such as ball and socket, hip and saddle joints, or a hinge (like the knee). Joints can also be classified by structure, function, biomechanical properties and more – it really gets very technical.
Your knee is made for movement. It is the largest and most complex of the joints that are made for free movement. It primarily acts like a hinge and when flexed is capable of some rotation and lateral movement.
Regardless of the classification, joints would not function very well if they were just bone meeting bone. There would be too much friction! Similar to a ball bearing sealed with oil, human joints that move have a joint capsule that contains either cartilage or synovial fluid – or both – between the bones in order to allow for ease of movement. Cartilage is a smooth, tough connective tissue pad to absorb impact between bones; synovial fluid is a yolk-like viscous substance that lubricates the joint.
When your knee hurts and you haven’t had a recent traumatic incident (like falling or a car crash) and it doesn’t go away, there is a possibility that either you’ve torn or strained something (cartilage or ligaments) or you may have arthritis. If you have sharp pain, locking, catching, you may have a bitty-bit of cartilage floating around in there. In any case, you should see your doctor.
What if it is Osteoarthritis?
The most common form of joint disease is Osteoarthritis (OA) and it is among the top ten causes of disability in the world (2008) OA is a whole joint disease with a hallmark of cartilage destruction and bone “remodeling” (thickening, bone collapse, bone spurs) followed by inflammation to mediate the degenerative conditions. This wear and tear chronic, degenerative joint condition results when cartilage has worn down enough to allow bones to rub on bones.
And when bones rub on bones they eventually wear through their protective articular cartilage coating. This causes abrasions on the bones and the bone tries to repair itself often resulting in bone spurs (osteophytes). Bone spurs are bony outgrowths usually along the edge of a bone. Bone spurs may inhibit mechanical motion of the knee that contributes to a limited range of motion or snapping or popping as a tendon rolls over the osteophyte. In addition to cartilage and bone degeneration, OA may also involve degeneration of ligaments and hypertrophy (enlargement) of the joint capsule.
That all sounds pretty bad, so, what can you do to alleviate pain?
If you have arthritis or general knee pain, the more inactive you get, the more your knee is going to hurt. By NOT moving your knee, it’s like letting a hinge get rustier and rustier. You need to help lubricate your knees, get them active, and make them stronger. Non-impact activity will help your joint to create more healthy joint fluid and possibly slow the effects of arthritis. Here’s how:
Lubricate = Drink more Water for Juicy Joints
Staying well hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your body. If you are low on fluids, cells in your body become dried up and they cannot function well. Think “juicy orange” versus “beef jerky”.
You want your joints and muscles to be juicy and drinking plenty of water will help with that and many other functions. Does soda pop count? Forget those sugary drinks and go straight for water. Want flavor? Adding in an electrolyte tablet or vitamins are a good idea and gives you some flavor options along with the minerals you need for electrolyte balance without the calories.
Try our “Hammer Fizz” tablets or “EcoDrink” powder to add to your water bottle, available at the front desk.
Get Knees Active = Non-Impact Activity
Choose a non-impact activity (something with no impact of foot to ground) to get your knees moving again, such as swimming, the elliptical machine, or bicycling. The key is to move your joint without aggravating it.
My favorite is bicycling (surprise!) – indoor training for focus and outdoor riding for joy! With indoor cycling, I am not talking about sitting on a bike, reading a magazine, and pushing the pedals around every so often. Or putting on a bunch of tension and grinding it out. That will do you NO good!
The key to happy, healthy knees is a proper bike set up so that your body is correctly aligned on the bike and knowing how fast to pedal (faster than you think) and how much tension to add (less than you think). There is definitely a “right” and “wrong” way to go about cycling.
Healthy Knees Cycling is designed to help anyone with knee pain feel better, get stronger, and return (or increase) to activity. You don’t have to know a thing about cycling – we will help you every step of the way, starting with a personalized bike fit. If you are already active and want to improve even more, try our Cycle Moles Camps, built on the same principals as Healthy Knees.
Make them Stronger = Weight Training for Strength and Stability
It’s hard to be active if your knees hurt and your legs are weak. And as you get less active, you get weaker – it is a BAD downward spiral. But Good News! There are many strength training moves that you CAN do that will improve your muscle strength and help stabilize your knees. Again, it all has to do with proper alignment.
Even the dreaded squat! GASP! But if you start with a ball against the wall and build from there, you may be squatting on the TRX, using the squat machine, and squatting on your own before you know it. But it is not just about your knees. You know that song…the footbone’s connected to the shin bone, the shin bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone….and so on? That is called the kinetic chain and an injury in one place almost always affects others. So, to strengthen your knees, it is not just about your quads, but also includes your hamstrings, glutes, calf muscles, and lower back. (By the way, cycling helps with all of this too).
Are you serious about reducing knee pain, getting more active, and regaining your freedom to move?
Do all three!
Of course, these things take time to see improvements and results. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled 3 easy things you can do TODAY to reduce your knee pain. Just click below and I’ll email it straight to you!
Don’t suffer another minute with your knee pain. I will help you every step of the way.
~ Robin Robertson
(I’ve had 8 knee surgeries of my own, still have my own knees, and have terrible osteoarthritis. Yet I am active and healthy and enjoying life! Let me help you do the same – click one of the links above and begin your journey back to a more active life.)