Muscle imbalance and knee pain. We already covered some possible (common?) reasons why you might be feeling pain or discomfort in your upper body due to muscles imbalances. So now let’s take a look at why you might be having pain in your lower body. In all my years of training, two very common spots people complained about were their knees and lower backs. While they may have had injuries in those places, it was also often due to muscle imbalances that caused stress in the body. As always, if pain persists even when you are not working out then it’s always wise to go see a physiotherapist or a doctor because they will be able to take a more in-depth look at the problem.
MUSCLE IMBALANCE AND KNEE PAIN
Knee pain. I use to hear this all the time, “I can’t run because my knees hurt”, “I can’t walk because my knees hurt” and on and on. To tell you the truth, I have the beginnings of what I suspect to be arthritis in my left knee. Do I let it stop me? Absolutely not, but I don’t work through the pain either. Icing is key after a long workout and so is moving the focus away from my knees and strengthening the other culprits.
Hips. One key to having healthy knees is to have proper mobility in your hips. The easiest way to check this is to lie on your back, arms out to the side with both legs straight on the floor. Lift your right leg up to the ceiling. If you can lift it to 90 degrees without either leg buckling or rotating or knee bending then your hips are sufficiently mobile.
Hamstrings. It’s time to take stretching seriously now. Place your right foot in a strap or band and gently pull it up to the ceiling until you feel some resistance. Make sure your legs are not rotating and your hips are straight (yes, even if you can’t lift your leg as high). Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. Now bend the same knee toward your chest. Without lifting your knee try to straighten your leg (don’t worry, it won’t stretch very far) you should feel a deep stretch in the belly of your hamstring muscle. Hold for 15 seconds and switch legs.
Pigeon. Sitting on the floor, bend your right leg so that your foot is touching your left thigh or is in a parallel position in front of you. First, sit up straight opening your chest to the ceiling. Hold for 20 seconds. Then, slowly hinge your body forward and if you can, reach your arms out on the floor in front of you. If you are more advanced, try pulling your back leg toward your glutes. Hold for 20 seconds and switch legs.
Frog. Don’t do this if it bothers your knees or ankles. I like to place a blanket under my knees to cushion them. Supporting yourself on your hands let your knees slide out to the sides while keeping the soles of your feet together. Let your upper body lie flat while you relax into this pose. Hold for 30 seconds.
Ankles. Oftentimes a lack of ankle flexibility can also negatively affect your knees. I admit that if I wasn’t dancing I would probably never think of my ankles but because they are stabilizers, they should be strengthened on a regular basis. To find out if your ankle are flexible, lie down on your back with your feet flat against the wall. Now try to pull your toes back (your heels shouldn’t move). If you can’t then you definitely need to work on that. Roughly one inch is good and more is even better.
Knee bends. Stand, on your right foot, about an inch away from a wall. Yes, you can hold the wall for support. Keeping your back straight, the goal is to try to touch the wall with your knee without letting your heel lift off the floor. Do this slowly 10x and switch feet.
Point and flex. Channel that ballet dancer in you. This exercise is best done with a stretch band (Theraband). Place the band over your foot. Gently pull on the band to create some resistance and then point and flex your foot slowly. Try spreading your toes and really focus on working through your whole foot. This exercise is great because it both stretches and strengthens your feet and ankles. Do this 15-20 times on each foot. For more ankle and foot exercises click here.
Knees can be tricky and a pain you should definitely not ignore, but that also doesn’t mean that you get the green light to do nothing. Even if you aren’t experiencing any discomfort these are great stretches and exercises that everyone should be doing.
Do you do exercises to strengthen your knees?