The Knee Pain Cover Up

Knee pain is a very common complaint with running and lifting. Many times, it seems to never go away regardless of what you do – rest, ice, stretch, strengthen, physical therapy, etc. Because of that, you give up trying to get rid of it. Instead, you end up either training through the pain, taking pain medication to mask the pain, using braces to attempt to help the issue, and ultimately, limiting your activities – decreasing mileage or quitting running all together, avoid doing squats or lunges – to avoid the pain. And perhaps you are avoiding the activities because your physician told you that they aren’t good for your knees and you are accepting that explanation.

Sound familiar to your story? It is one I hear almost daily from people. It is also a story that can be changed if you do it right. So let’s dive into why your methods didn’t work and then discuss what was likely missed.

The Masking Attempts

Using pain medication and braces as a way to control your pain is simply a mask or a band-aid. They essentially give your body a way to pretend the pain doesn’t exist for a period of time and allows you to do your activity. The problem with this is that your issue will continue to get worse. The more you cover up the pain in order to continue training, the more damage you are continuing to do.

Pain is your body’s way to tell you there is something wrong that needs fixed. The more you cover that up and avoid addressing the issue, the worse you are making the issue AND the longer it will take to actually fix when you are finally ready to. 

The Failed Attempts

Stretching, strengthening, and physical therapy are great methods to resolve knee pain. As a physical therapist and a coach, I agree with these methods…as long as the proper things are being done. That is where things typically fall short.

Many times, people (clinicians included) are addressing knee pain as if the knee is its own entity, ignoring the fact that other things contribute to knee pain. When those are things are not addressed, the symptoms do not go away.

What Was Missed

Because of the anatomy of the knee, knee pain is typically a symptom of something else not moving properly when your body is moving rather than specifically a knee joint issue. You need to take time to figure out what is going on in the areas above and below the joint, meaning the foot and ankle complex, the hip, and even the back. If the mechanics in any of those areas are not up to par, knee pain is often a result. 

“How you do anything is how you do everything” is a phrase a friend and colleague uses when talking about going through life. I think this works really well when talking about movement as well. For instance, the way you squat in the gym under load is the same way you squat at home when doing your household tasks or even when moving between sitting and standing. If you don’t learn how to move properly, the knees are not only impacted when at the gym, but also every single time during your day that you sit down, stand up, or pick something up from the floor.

Last, but not least, is running technique. If your pain is with running and no one ever assessed your running, then your issues were never addressed fully. And when I say assessing your running, I am talking a full body assessment, not just your legs and not what they do at the running stores to see what shoes are ideal for you. A lot can happen with the body when you are running, from head to toe, and all of that can impact your knee.

Get back to training and living like you want to again. If you have done everything already, I invite you to get on a free call with Dr. Brianne Showman to find out what might have been missed in your recovery attempts. Schedule a time to talk with Brianne! It’s time to take your life back!

 

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