The Squeaky Knee:
Have you noticed popping or squeaking of your knee or even pain? While knee pain can be caused by various injuries, the rehab for it can simply begin by focusing on strengthening and stretching the surrounding musculature.
Anatomically, the knee is categorized as a hinge joint functioning with the assistance of its surrounding muscles. Think of the hinge of a door and how it functions. Most often if the gears are new, the door is silent. However, with overuse and time, a squeaky door is sure to result forcing the need for a lubricant such as WD-40. The hinge joint of the knee functions similarly. Grinding or “squeakiness” in the knee can be due to weak muscles and can cause pain. The weakening of those muscles can cause perpetual pain limiting activities such as walking, running, squatting, etc. However, when the joint is moved the body creates a natural lubricate called synovial fluid acting as lotion to the joint. Exercises to strengthen and stretch the knee can create more “lotion” in the joint to ensure your knee functions decreasing the grinding or squeakiness you hear with movement.
Here are some quick exercises and tips to ensure your “door doesn’t squeak” .
- Stretch regularly.
Stretching ensures the muscles are prepared to endure the upcoming stress placed upon them. Here are a few stretching exercises:
- Gastrocnemius Calf stretch– Stand in front of a wall with one foot in front of you and one foot behind in a slight lunge position. Place both hands on the wall for stability. Keeping the front knee slightly bent. With the heel of the back foot on the floor, keep the back knee straight and lean forward until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. A stretch should be felt in the top of the calf area
- Soleus calf stretch– Stand in the position above. Allow the heel of the back foot to leave the floor while bending the knee and leaning forward. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. A stretch should be felt in the bottom of the calf area.
- Strengthen muscles that support the knee.
- Mini squats-Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Perform a SMALL squatting motion as if you were going to sit in a chair behind you. Ensure your knees do not go over your toes to decrease pressure on knees. Repeat 15 times progressing to 30 times as strength increases.
- Step ups-Find a 4” to 6” step. Slowly step both feet up on step beginning with your less painful leg. Step back down and repeat 15 times progressing to 30 times as strength increases.
In addition to these exercise, rest is vital.
While “motion is lotion” for your knee joint, rest is important as well. Overuse can cause pain just like an injury. Be sure to rest your knees from intense activities at least 2-3 days a week and ice if needed. Head back to our last blog post entitled “To Use Ice or Heat, that is the question” for tips on when to ice and for how long
We hope this post was helpful as you gain insight on how to better take care of your knees. Please don’t hesitate to stop by the clinic for more exercises and a quick PT consultation.
Blog Contributor: Brittney Hogan, LPTA