Knee pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. The most common causes of knee pain are related to ageing, injury or repeated stress but medical conditions such as arthritis, gout and infections can also contribute. It’s important to identify the root cause of your knee pain to prevent it from becoming worse or growing into a long-term injury, and the best way to do that is to listen to your body.
If standing for too long has your knees feeling sore, uncomfortable or painful then it’s a good idea to figure out if this is something that happens as soon as you stand or after a certain amount of time. Understanding what could be triggering pain is a really important step to solving the problem!
If you find that your knees drift toward each other as you push up off your desk chair at the end of the working day or your armchair, then there’s a good chance that there could be some weakness in the muscles in the thigh and gluteal muscles. This can cause pain because the knee joint can’t be controlled as efficiently. In this instance, pain is common on the sides of the knee as this is where the structures are that are stressed in the ‘knee drift’ position.
Common habits like sitting on chairs with our legs crossed can have a real impact on developing knee pain and aggravating knee pain from other causes. The knee is a hinge joint, allowing your leg to straighten and bend, and sitting on a chair with one leg crossed on top of the other puts the knee on top at an angle with the weight of your lower leg pulling down. This awkward force on the knee joint can cause pain with prolonged sitting and can even exacerbate other causes of knee pain. Being mindful of sitting posture and taking care to take breaks from prolonged sitting can be a tricky habit to get into, but is well worth the effort.
Walking up stairs exerts a force of 2.5 times your body weight on your knees, and walking down stairs exerts 3.5 times your body weight. The main reasons stairs may become difficult to manage are the strength and available range of movement in the knee. There are a variety of reasons (underlying conditions like arthritis or previous knee injuries etc.) that stairs can become difficult to manage but the main barriers tend to be strength and available range of movement at the knee. If you are finding yourself almost pulling yourself up the stairs using the handrail, you may notice a downward spiral over time of leg muscles weakening from under use and increasing issues with pain that is often felt at the front of the knee.
If your knees hurt from walking or running, take a look at the soles of your shoes. You may see signs of excessive wear on one side of the shoe compared to the other, which can suggest an imbalance of force going through the leg. Make sure your feet are effectively supported by your footwear when walking to minimise pain. Making sure the muscles in your legs are strong enough to meet the demands you put through the knee joint is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of pain and injury.