I have seen many people in my practice who come in saying they stopped walking, hiking, taking fitness classes or even biking due to knee pain that just came about with no injury. Many just chalked it up to ageing and getting older, thinking that this is just what happens and that they need to find a new activity. Well, know that this is not always the case!
Certainly, you can develop arthritis and joint break down, we all get it to some extent. However, this is not the only reason your knees hurt when going up and down the steps, hiking or walking far. Often time it is a muscle imbalance with one part being really tight and other areas being weak. When we are younger we have more leeway with activities, our bodies holding up and have a faster recovery. As we age we need to be more attuned into keeping ourselves both strong and flexible or we can be more prone to pain.
As far as the knee, I often find people have significant tightness in the ITB, an outside part of the quadricep, and concurrent weakness in the gluteus medius (side of the glut) on the same side. Think of it like this: the hip has to stabilise the knee for it to function properly and if it doesn’t the knee can dive in when loading it, such as going up and down steps or doing a squat. The outside of the thigh gets tight and then starts pulling the kneecap to the outside continually. In that scenario, the kneecap does not track correctly and bam!!….you start getting chronic knee pain.
It is important that you have a strong leg to support your joint, especially as you start to develop more joint break down. Imagine it as making your own brace to support the joint. You also need to have correct muscle balance so your knee is moving as it should when you are working on strengthening it. When doing a squat make sure you are sitting back to really engage the bootie (put more weight on the heels). Also, make sure you are able to see your toes. So, weight back during this to not cause excessive pressure in the knee joint. If you are stiff feeling some pain try doing mini squats and go only as low as you can, with correct form.
There are so many exercises and stretches you can use to improve your condition!! Here, I will give you a few that you can google and get to work on in hopes of relieving your pain!
- ITB stretching
- Gluteus medius strengthening
- Quadricep stretching
Don’t let age limit your activity. Try as much as you can to prevent muscle imbalance, keep the core of your leg strong and make your own muscular knee brace to prevent knee pain, allowing yourself to continue doing what you want, without pain!!
Aging. Body Health. Lifestyle.