All the techniques described below are demonstrated on my Facebook live video about this topic.
Knee pain is relatively common in the UK and the good news is that it's often very easy to treat! Here are my top tips for knee pain.
The most common form of knee pain is muscular, that is, pain caused by tightness, tension or weakness in the muscles of the knee. In 90% of cases it's the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) muscle which is the culprit, so here's what you can do to help:
- Massage the muscle. You can find it by placing the palm of your opposite hand on the kneecap of the affected knee - the point at which the tip of your thumb lands is the most common area for a knot in that muscle. Grab some lotion and give it a vigorous rub until the knot is reduced and the pain has subsided.
- Exercise it. Stand in a high squat leaning against the wall with a soft ball between your knees. Squeeze the ball between your knees and, at the same time, push your bottom into the wall. You should feel your inner thighs tense up. Hold this for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat. If you find this version of the exercise too easy you can sit into a deeper squat or bring your feet closer to the wall.
The next most common cause of knee pain is osteoarthritis (OA). As we discussed in an earlier post, OA is not in and of itself a painful condition, but sometimes the presence of OA can irritate other structures or make the joint stiff. In this case, the best thing is to move that joint! Motion is lotion!
Walking is great, dancing is great, cycling is great! So if you enjoy any of those, do lots of them! But you'll probably find swimming is the most effective way to move the knee and reduce pain and stiffness. Not only does being in the water remove some of the weight-strain on the knee, by making you weightless, but the act of moving the knee through the water provides some resistance and helps to strengthen the knee muscles, build up cartilage and improves blood flow. Better still, why not try marching through the water, or cycling your legs as if you were riding an underwater bike?
I would also highly recommend taking a supplement for your joints if you know you have OA - the BioCare Glucosamine MSM Complex and their MegaEPA are an excellent combination. Or, if you don't like tablets and you prefer a liquid supplement to put in smoothies, BioCare also make a JointGuard solution which has high levels of Glucosamine and Omega 3 oils (and it actually doesn't taste too bad because it's got ginger and citrus in!). If you are an existing patient of mine, I have a discount code that you can use on their website too.
Having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25 classifies you as overweight, while a BMI over 30 is classed as obese. And being overweight or obese has a significant impact on your knees by increasing the stress on them. Losing weight will significantly improve your knee pain as well as having lots of other health benefits. You can work out your BMI here.
In spite of what many very fashionable fad-diets will tell you, there is only one way to lose weight: to be in a calorie deficit. This means as long as you are eating fewer calories than you are using, you will lose weight.
Here's an online tool to work out how many calories you can eat (otherwise known as your Basal Metabolic Rate [BMR]).
If you eat exactly the same number of calories as your BMR you will stay the same weight. If you eat more calories than your BMR you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than your BMR you will lose weight. It's that simple!
You should see your GP if any of the following happen in your knees:
- You can't put any weight on your knee
- If your knee locks or gives way frequently (painless clicking is normal)
- If your knee is red, hot and swollen and you also feel unwell/hot and cold/shivery
- If your knee has changed shape