Knee, Knee, Knee...

Knee pain? Knights who say 'knee'? The Butcher's Dog fills you in with some basic advice on that troublesome hinge in the middle of your leg...

Posted: 13 October 2005
by The Canny Canine

Butcher's Dog! Regular outdoor fitness tips from the canine on creatine. Cold wet nose and glossy coat guaranteed.

Bloody Knees...

 There's not a lot worse than a bad knee, particularly if you're an active outdoors person. The bad news is that the knee is a pretty complex bit of enginering and there are all sorts of things that can go wrong with it - ultimately, anyone with knee problems should seek specialist help - but here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.


In a perfect world, our legs, feet, joints and so on, would all line up neatly. Unfortunately, in reality many of us have an imperfect walking action that can throw stresses onto our joints and cause ongoing pain when walking.

The most common problem is overpronation, when the foot twists inwards in an exagerated way on foot strike potentially leading to problems in knees, hips and back. If you're suffering mild knee pain, then it's worth trying a corrective footbed, Superfeet Green being the best known example.

These are designed to help correct mild pronation problems with a more supportive arch area to stop the foot flattening under load and a deep, stable heel cup. They can make a surprising difference to lower leg pain and to feet as well.

The Next Step...

If you have more serious biomechanical issues, then it's time to see a sports podiatrist. They'll analyse your shoes for wear patterns then video you walking and running on a tread mill in order to analyse your gait. If there's a problem, they can make up special orthotic insoles to wear in your boots and shoes, which are designed to create a more neutral gait.

Full custom-made orthotics aren't cheap, but you need to ask yourself how much your outdoor time is worth to you - if biomechanics are your problem, they can make a huge difference.

General Kneecap Pain

Another classic problem is non-specific knee-cap pain, the sort of thing that sometimes comes on gradually with no obvious sudden wrench or impact causing the injury. Very often it can be due to a muscular imbalance around the knee that means the knee-cap doesn't track straight up and down as you walk, but instead slides sideways and rubs against underlying bones.

The good news is that it's eminently treatable with special exercises to increase your control over the muscles around the knee and your best bet if you have problems is to see a good sports physiotherapist who will be able to diagnose you and suggest appropriate exercises.

To Pole Or Not To Pole

Lots of walkers find that using trekking poles helps to reduce stress on their knees by taking some of the weight off the legs and also improving balance and walking action, however we'd suggest that it's also a good idea to treat the underlying cause and consult a professional as above. If you have biomechanicla issues, for example, it's better to sort them out than simply partially mask them. Overall though, if they work for you, we'd say, use them.

Looking After Your Knees - Tips

  • Avoid sitting with bent knees for extended periods of time.
  • Don't cross your legs at knees or ankles, keep things straight.
  • If you have to sit, at work for example, walk around regularly.
  • Warm up before physical activity.
  • If you cycle, make sure your saddle is high enough.
  • Don't stand with the knee slightly bent which can shorten tendons.
  • Keep your fluid intake up to maintain lubrication of the joint.
  • Don't kneel down if you can avoid it.

Next Steps

Really we're just scratching the surface - there are dozens of potential knee problems ranging trom long term degenerative arthritis to impact injuries. We'd always advise you to seek medical help if you have problems with your knees. The good news is that the level of pain isn't always related to the seriousness of the problem, so don't assume that because it hurts a lot, you have a major problem :-)

Yours barkingly


The Butcher's Dog

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