Chiropractic ‘Self-Defense’ Tips for Your Knees

Knee pain and knee injuries are extremely common in the general population.  Tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are common in turning/twisting sports like skiing, soccer and football.  I have three friends in their early 30’s who all had ACL surgery last year alone!  Menisus tear are also very common and affect jocks, couch potatoes and moms alike.  These can often brew from years of overuse, poor biomechanics in sports or just silent deterioration of connective tissue.  And let’s not forget our good friend, osteoarthritis.  I’ve had some patients present with this even in their late 20’s….so it’s never too early or late to develop arthritic knee joints.

The knee has two basic movements: flexion and extension.  However the joint also allows for a bit of internal and external rotation that is insufficient enough to protect it from some of the torquing forces that get placed upon it in life and sporting activities.  Our knee muscles function to propel our bodies forward in movement and also help cushion the impact of movement.  The best way for you to help keep your knees healthy is to maintain the balance and strength of those supporting muscles.

Here are some quick chiropractic tips on how to prevent knee injuries and maintain good knee health:

  1. Avoid prolonged squatting, for example while gardening or doing housechores.  Extreme flexion of the knee places alot of stress on the cartilage and connective tissues in the knee joint.
  2. Ladies, avoid heels that are over one inch as much as possible.  The change in angle alters your centre of mass and subsequently puts more stress on the front of the knee joint and tendon.  The occasional wedding or dinner party will warrant something high but keep them in the closet day-to-day.  Your knees, hips and back will thank you for it down the road!
  3. Don’t prop you feet up on a table or ottoman without some kind of support under your knees.  Just like extreme flexion is bad for your knees, hyperextension of the knee in this ‘relaxed’ position is also not advisable.
  4. Don’t sit with one leg tucked underneath you or sit on the floor with your legs to the side.  There is too much rotation torque applied to your knees in these positions.  It was fine when you were a kid but now that you are older and less flexible, those joints can’t handle it!
  5. Runners will kill me for saying this but I’ll say it anyway!  I don’t advise running as your main form of exercise or fitness because it is simply too much pounding on your knees and rest of your body.  There are a lot of other way to stay fit or lose weight that don’t create such a toll on your body.  At the very least, try not to run more than every other day, run on softer surfaces and cross-train on your off days.  Competitive runners…keep doing what you’re doing because I know you won’t listen to me anyway!
  6. Wear properly fitting athletic shoes for whatever sport you participate in.  This also means that you shouldn’t wear running shoes to play soccer or basketball in, nor should your wear basketball shoes to run in.  Shoes are designed for specific purposes and are best used in the appropriate court, field or pavement.
  7. Lose some weight if necessary.  In climbing stairs, an extra 50 lbs of weight translates into over 150 lbs of extra pressure on your knees!
  8. Invest in a foam roller to perform self-myofascial release in key muscles such as your quads, hamstrings, ITB and calves.  By releasing excessive soft tissue tension around the knee joint, there will be less pressure on the joint when doing any activity.

When looking at knee pain, the common conditions you may hear thrown around at the office, in the gym or at home include:

  • ACL/MCL/mensicus tears,
  •  Jumper’s Knee, Runner’s Knee, Patellofemoral Pain,
  • IT band syndrome,
  • quad/hamstring pull,
  • knee arthritis

Whichever one of these you may or may not have, you should always see a qualified health professional to have it assessed properly.  Most of the time rehab therapies, manual treatments and properly addressing muscle imbalances will help you get back to normal in short order while surgery and injections should only be viewed as last resorts.

What is the best medicine?…PREVENTION!

Dr. Keith

Chiropractic ‘Self-Defense’ Tips for Your Hips

After a brief hiatus from blogging, I’m back this week to discuss the HIP!  First, some important background information.  The hip joint is a complex, integrated system of muscle, joint and bone and in recent years, doctors and therapists have changed the way to diagnose and treat problem related to the hip.  Two key questions emerged: 1) why was there such a high prevalence of well-conditioned athletes straining or tearing their abdominal and groin muscles? and 2) why were so many older folks losing their hip function and needing hip replacement surgery?

A newly understood source of hip pain is called femeroacetabular impingement.  This is where the head of the femur (a ball shape), can’t move around smoothly because of bony bumps on the femoral head resulting in excessive friction in the hip socket.  The result is that it forces people to move differently often affecting one’s midsection in particular and hence straining the abdominal and groin (adductor) muscles and making them more susceptible to tearing.  Over a prolonged period of time, impingement can tear the supporting labrum (a fibrous cartilage ring around the hip socket), leading to bone-on-bone contact and arthritic processes to occur…and in the worse case scenario the need for a hip replacement.

Patients come into our Richmond Hill chiropractic clinic with hip pain problems all the time.  The acute hip injuries are easy to diagnosis because they are often associated with a recent traumatic incident due to an activity.  Groin pulls, hip pointers, bursitis and sacroiliac joint sprains seem to be most common.

The chronic hip pain problems typically require more investigation.  These are the ones where the patient complains of ongoing pain that is dull or achy and deep within the hip joint.  It is sometimes more sharp depending on what he/she does and there is usually limitations in hip range of motion.  It is complicated because it involves looking at the 27 different muscles that control the hip and assessing what limitations exist and are provoking the pain.

In the end, what I will usually find is that there are 1 to 3 key hip muscles that are tight and inhibited in function which causes an imbalance within the integrated hip system.  The muscles themselves could be the pain generator or the excessive pulling of the tight muscles may cause excessive pressure within the joint capsule and cartilage structures.  The result is the aforementioned femeroacetabular impingement.  Properly ‘releasing’ the inhibited muscles will often quickly restore movement of the hip as well as alleviate the pain.

So what can you do to keep your hips healthy?  Try these Self-Defense Tips…

  1. Don’t sit in a position where your hips are lower than your knees for prolonged periods.  In particular, most people do not have their office chairs adjusted properly to account for this.  As well, if you drive alot, the design of most car seats promotes this bad sitting posture.  Why is it so bad?  It puts your hip flexors in a contracted state for too long, causing it to tighten up and result in either front of the hip pain or even low back pain.
  2. Don’t cross your legs.  Crossing your legs in a Figure 4 position causes a outward twisting pressure on the hip.  Meanwhile crossing on thigh over the other causes an inward twisting pressure.  Both are bad so don’t do it.  I know…old habit die hard.
  3. Sleep with a pillow between your knees to put your hips in neutral alignment.  This way the top hip is not twisted inward while you sleep.
  4. Add some stretches to your hip flexors, glutes, piriformis and adductors to your exercise regimen.  The majority of people only know to stretch their quads and hamstrings.  Add the others for a more complete approach to flexibility for good hip health.  See your chiropractor, physiotherapist or trainer for some good stretches.

Like I always say, Prevention is the best medicine!

If you know anyone who has ever had a hip replacement surgery, you’ll know how crappy it is…be proactive now and save yourself the aggravation later!

Dr. Keith