Let’s talk about pain and injuries in relation to the knee, and how they are rarely due to the knee itself.
Many associate their knee problems with a “bad knee” like it is something inherent that they were born with… Yet, the problem is usually stemming from what’s happening below and what’s happening above.
For instance, most of our clients that are recovering from injuries to the ACL, MCL, Meniscus (aka cartilage), and Patellar are not doing so by just focusing on techniques in and around the knee. Instead we are finding and fixing the imbalances in the feet, ankles, hips, and core complexes that are impacting the way the knee stabilizes.
More specifically, the main thing that people with knee injuries are dealing with is the tendency for them to go into what’s called: Knee Valgus.
It’s a subtle (or major ;)) shift where the kneecap lines up with the big toe, or even inside the big toe depending on how extreme our imbalances are, so in essence our knee is collapsing inward. So if you do something like a Lunge and draw a line from your hip to your thigh, down to the center of your thigh where your femur is, you’ll find that it’s angling inward just a little bit as opposed to where the knee actually wants to stay, which is the mid outside of your foot. Everytime it buckles inward we get a ton of shearing force that aggravates the knee which is what’s responsible for most knee injuries and chronic pains.
Another common place you might see this tendency is in running, with striking the ground with the foot turned out, having the opposite hip dip a little bit, and then buckle the knee in as you’re transferring over–that’s a combination of what’s happening at the ankle and what’s happening at the hips.
So why does this happen? At the feet and ankles, the main cause for the knee to track valgus is due to tight calves, soleus, achilles, and plantar fascia lines, so these are basically everything underneath and behind that ankle. The foot gets bounded-up and tight, so it’s not able to get into dorsiflexion easily — that’s the first reason for imbalances.
The other reason why we have imbalances is coming from the hips, and there are MULTIPLE reasons why the hips can get impacted, but the most common reason is imbalances between the left and right hip, meaning you have one hip that is tighter than the other in a particular direction. The easiest way to check for an imbalance is by doing an active straight leg raise to each side, or a seated cross-legged position. If one side feels or looks way tighter than the other then you have imbalances in the way your hips stabilize from left to right (refer to the video for a more thorough breakdown)
Other common imbalances between the hips are:
- Overactive hip flexors
- Bound up external hip rotators
- Overactive adductors/quads
- Lack of gluteus medius engagement
So how do we fix this???
When we’re working with our clients, we obviously first need to address mobility issues that are preventing them from moving correctly (address the overactive/tight tissues). Then to teach the body to move correctly, they always hear me say: “Screw your hips into the ground.”
Meaning, while squatting, lunging, hip hinging, etc focusing on screwing the hip into the ground to wake up the outside of the butt (glute medius) to keep the knee more in line with the mid-outside of the foot.
For a more thorough breakdown of this, watch the video below-
Or, if you need some help with this and want to understand it more, reply to this email and feel free to ask any questions you’d like. Or if you’d like to schedule a free 1-on-1 call with my team and I, feel free to book a free Mobility Consultation Call on our calendar, it’s a service call designed to help anyone that needs it :)- https://go.oncehub.com/hbrcall