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Fix Your Knees & Regain Your Squats

Jaime Alnassim

Online Coaching | Strength & Conditioning

April 26, 2020

When it comes to knee pain, come leg day every bro has some kind of old injury. This excuse always works, for the most part, because anyone who has ever had knee pain knows the pain it brings. The problem here is that all of us have had some form of knee pain. Whether it be a small injury or something bad. Most of the time it comes from forgetting to foam roll, stretch, and/or warm-up properly. Remember the K.I.S.S principle, “keep it simple, stupid” and go back to the basics to get your knees back feeling normal.

Looking at the knee, there is only one plane of motion that the joint moves in. Flexion and extension are the two movements of the knee; and while there is some internal and external rotation, we are not going to talk about that. The knee is a simple joint, compared to the shoulder and hip joints. When looking at knee pain caused by muscles, there are three areas to look at adductors, Iliotibial Band (I.T. band), and the quadriceps muscles. Why not the hamstrings, because this is the muscle every rushes to when they have a tight back. Most of the tight quadriceps or hip flexor muscles cause that. That is why we are looking at the other three muscles that make up the thigh.

Adductors

Why would you care about these little muscles? Simple, when the adductors get tight the pull can cause an increase in the Q angle at the hips. Q angle is “The degree of genu valgum can be estimated by the Q angle, which is the angle formed by a line drawn from the anterior superior iliac spine through the center of the patella and a line drawn from the center of the patella to the center of the tibial tubercle.” – Wikipedia. For women, they have a larger Q-angle then men because of evolution and the fact that they give birth. When the Q angle is increased because of the adductors being overly tight, this could cause lateral patellar dislocation or increased lateral patellofemoral contact pressures. To sum that up, either the pull of the knee could be so great that the knee could dislocate or the pull from the inside of the knee could cause the outside of the knee to crush down (crushing the meniscus). This can also be caused by the knees coming in when squatting, make sure to keep the knees over the toes or push them out a little.

Iliotibial Band

The I.T. band is not a muscle so most people just don’t even think twice about this being a cause of knee pain. When we think of lateral (outside) knee pain, the cause is most likely from an inflammation of the distal portion of the I.T. band. This is because the I.T. band is a thick band of fascia that crosses the hip joint and extends distally to insert on the patella, tibia, and biceps femoris tendon. To sum that up, it takes up the outside of your tight. If you have ever foam rolled the I.B. band you know just how tight it can become. This is probably one of the harder places to foam roll, just because of the pain of rolling it. It has to be done, though. Lateral knee pain is most commonly caused by a tight I.T. band, so get to foam rolling.

Quadriceps

The quadriceps go from the hips to the front of the knee, the patellar tendon. When the quadriceps get tight they can mess up the hips, however, at the same time, they can cause discomfort on the front of the knee. The femur and tibia have a grove that they fit into and this keeps the knee joint moving smoothly. While this just happens over time, lifting weights or running can speed it up. Really focusing on full range movements, foam rolling, and stretching the quadriceps will help reduce the tightness and/or pain in the front of the knee. Keep on the foam rolling, at least after each workout.

While these are extremely basic ideas of helping with knee pain, they are the most common causes for each muscle. Foam rolling, training the full range of motion, warming up, and cooling down can all help reduce or prevent knee pain. You can start to squat again and stop using the excuse that your knee hurts. Spend a few weeks’ foam rolling and getting used to squatting deeper on all variations of squats: back, front, split, Bulgarian, etc.… because you don’t want a tight knee because you are ego lifting.

Check out this video on knee pain

Video from MWod

Citation:

KHAUND,, RAZIB, and SHARON H. FLYNN,. “Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.

Mizuno, Yasayuki. “Q-angle Influences Tibiofemoral and Patellofemoral Kinematics.” Wiley Onlinelibrary. Journal of Orthopaedic Research, Sept. 2001. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.

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