Knee pain can strike young or old and can be from a variety of causes - sports injuries, osteoarthritis, flat feet and trauma are the most common reasons that osteopaths encounter. Besides treatment, exercise can be extremely helpful in keeping the knee pain free. There are three types of exercise:
The knee joint relies heavily on the muscles around it to maintain normal postural alignment during walking and other activities. Muscle weakness is common in knee osteoarthritis and other chronic knee conditions. Strengthening exercises help to build up weak muscles around the hip and knee to protect the knee from forces that load and stress the cartilage.
You can strengthen your knee at the gym or just using a flexible band at home. Cycling is great, as well as pool-based exercises (swimming or aqua aerobics).
Neuromuscular control is a type of strengthening exercise based around everyday movement. People with knee osteoarthritis often adapt their movement patterns to compensate for their knee symptoms. These abnormal movement patterns can cause further weakening of key muscles, especially those around the knee-cap. It is important to do these exercises slowly and with control.
Often, stiffness is a big complaint along with the pain. However the loss of movement in the knee is not caused by the joint alone but also often involves the muscles. Stretching exercises aim to improve the flexibility of the body by stretching out tight muscles, joints and other tissues. Stetching can be incorporated into any exercise program or you may want to take a class that focuses on flexibility such as yoga. Important muscles to stretch are the hamstrings, calves, quads and ITB.
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.