Training Tips

What causes common knee pain and how to fix it

August 14, 2013
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Minor knee injuries happen. However, many are caused by different things. Here we’ll try and breakdown the most common injuries we come across and how you can address them.

Note: These are guidelines and every injury is different. We suggest that you go see a medical professional if you are experiencing any knee pain or discomfort.

1. Pain on the outside of knee (Lateral Knee Pain)

Commonly described as “feels like a knife” on my knee.

Test #1: Perform a single leg squat either on a box or flat ground (a Pistol squat) and see if the knee caves in.

If the knee does cave in, the pain is most likely caused by either weak Gluteal muscles (butt) and/or a tight IT band (outer thigh) and/or tight adductors (inner thigh).

Test #2: The Ober Test

The Ober Test is a relatively easy and accurate test to determine if you have a tight IT Band. A failure of both Test 1 and Test 2 most likely means that a tight IT band is causing your lateral knee pain. A failure of Test 1 but pass on Test 2 most likely means that weak glutes or tight adductors are causing your lateral knee pain.

How to fix it: If you failed both Test 1 and Test 2 (tight IT band) you need to spend some time foam rolling your IT band (outer thigh) and surrounding muscle tissues on the outside of you hips, butt and legs.

If you failed Test 1 but passed Test 2 (weak glutes and/or tight abductors) you will either need to fix your weak glutes by working on activating them either by squeezing your butt every time you squat as well practicing your single leg bridge.

To perform a single leg bridge, lay on your back, bend one knee to 90 degrees and have that your other leg laying straight flat on the floor. Lift your other resting leg off the ground about 2” and squeeze your butt to get your hips and middle/lower back off the floor and hold for 3 sets of 10 seconds. To loosen up your adductors, spend some time rolling it out on a hard foam roller as well as self massage and stretches such as lateral lunges driving your hips open. Here is a tutorial on how to perform the single leg bridge.

2. Pain on the bottom of the knee (Jumper’s Knee aka Patella tendonitis aka Patella tendonosis)

Commonly described as a nagging pain below the knee cap.

Pain on the bottom of the knee (Terminal Knee Pain) is extremely aggravating, limiting and occasionally debilitating but at the same time very treatable. Pain beneath the knee and specifically patella tendonitis (or its long term version tendonosis) are generally caused by tight anterior muscles such as the whole quad complex and specifically the hip flexors like rectus femoris and psoas as well as a weak core.

Tight rectus femoris and psoas often pull the front “upper lip” of your pelvis down causing back hyperextension and even more pain in the knee as well as lower back. Spending ample time stretching the quads, hips and psoas will be a good start. However, the stretch work needs to be followed up by ample strength work of the core such as hollow holds, planks, and controlled goblet squats. A strong core will prevent spinal hyperextension and anterior pelvic tilt, allowing your body to become healthy again.

So if you have knee pain, use this as a guideline to help come back strong! Post any comments or questions below!

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