Every athlete knows that the knees are a vulnerable and weak joint in the body and mild pain can quickly accelerate and take you out for a whole season. This article is for anyone wanting to find the hidden causes of pesky knee pain and take care of it before it wreaks havoc on your game.
The ache often starts underneath your kneecap or on the front of your knee. But the solution to knee pain may lie higher, in the hips. Muscle imbalance or weakness is a common occurrence that occurs in the synergistic muscles in the hip. When muscles are incapable of firing correctly, compensation occurs, and this will alter joint motion from its normal path. There are a few areas I recommend checking out if you are experiencing knee pain:
- TFL: The tensor fascia lata muscle starts at the pelvis and connects into the Iliotibial band (ITB) which is a tendon that crosses the outside of the knee. ITB Syndrome is one of the most common overuse injuries among athletes. With more than 200,000 U.S. cases per year, symptoms include pain between the hip and knees that worsens with activity.
- Hip flexors: The Iliopoas muscle is one of the strongest hip flexors. Especially in women, weak muscles turn the hips inward. As a result, your knees cave and turn in when you run, putting extra pressure on the joint. On the flip side, strong stabilizing muscles align your hips and knees properly—so you can move pain-free.
- Hamstrings: This group of three muscles start at the pelvis and cross the back of the knee at various points. Tension of this group will cause the knee and pelvis to rotate out of alignment.
A great way to test out if any of these muscles are causing tension or weakness that affect the knee is the overhead squat. Lift your arms overhead and place your feet hip distance apart. Record yourself doing a nice fluid squat as low as you can. Keep your arms elevated as you stand to upright. If you notice your knees drifting inward or outward during this motion instead of staying pointed straight on, then we can assume there is altered muscular patterns that need to be addressed.
Don’t wait until you’re hurt to shore up strength. Chiropractic care is essential for all athletes to help align the joints of the low back, hip, knees and ankles so they work in perfect harmony for your season.
Our mission at Desired Health Chiropractic is to help athletes achieve a higher level of sports performance. If you found value in this article we ask that you share with your friends, family, or teammates. Until next time, stay healthy and reach for your goals.