Why does the Inner Part of my Knee Hurt?

1. YOUR KNEE IS DEPENDENCY ISSUES. As fascinating and as vital to our well-being as the knee is, it is also not very smart. For the knee to kick our butt behind us or straighten out ahead of us, it needs the help of either the foot or the hip. Same goes for when  we want it to twist in or twist out. This means that the knee has to listen to the muscles above and below it for directions in what it is supposed to do.

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2. MUSCLES ARE ELASTIC, LIGAMENTS ARE NOT. Muscles are designed to respond to impact and to create the movement of bones, whereas ligaments are designed to hold bones together to form joints. Similar to a bungee jumper taking a dive, the elastic quality of muscle allows it stretch under load, and recoil to create force. This is what is supposed to happen when we walk. With each heel strike, the muscles on the back part of our leg are supposed to stretch out and then spring us forward.

3. THE PAIN STARTS WHEN YOU TAKE ON TOO MUCH WEIGHT ON THE INSIDE OF YOUR LEG. The inner part of your knee is made up of ligaments and they are supposed to connect your lower leg to your upper leg. Ligaments are supposed to be more like ropes. They have a stiffness quality that allows them to keep bones together but also allow them the freedom to move.  The problem of pain occurs when that “rope” gets tugged too much and it begins to fray. This “fraying” is referred to as a strain and people interpret it as pain.

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4. SLEEPY BUTT’S AND FLAT FEET CAN’T STOP CRASHING KNEES. At the hip, it’s the job of our gluteus maximus (butt) muscle to slow our knee down from crashing inward when we do things like stepping forward or sitting down in a chair. If the butt is working the correct way, then the knee will travel in alignment with the first two toes. If it isn’t working then our knees will begin to knock. Likewise from below, if your foot is flat and can’t absorb the impact, your ankle will collapse and the inner part of your knee will get stressed.

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The muscles of the butt start in the lower back and sacrum before they merge (along with the Tensor Fascia Lata) into the Illiotibial Band. Via the IT band, the glute maximus plays a big role in externally rotating the upper leg. If the IT band is very sensitive to foam rolling, we could use this as an indicator that the butt isn’t working correctly to slow the knee from falling inward.

5. BABIES ARE BORN WITH ARCHES. We are born with a skeleton that allows our muscle’s to be perfectly balanced and as a result we are able to easily battle the effects of gravity. Poor daily habits like sitting too much and our choices in footwear change the length’s of our muscles, and in effect change our ability to control our body and how it moves.

6. IF YOUR PELVIS TILTS TOO MUCH YOUR BUTT MIGHT NOT WORK. The key to figuring out why the inside of your knee is hurting is to figure out if your feet and hips are working. Start by looking for clues on your feet. Calluses and bunions are a couple of giveaways that your the inside of leg is taking on too much stress with each step. If you find some, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that arches you arches are beginning to drop. Next, lets just get an idea if your hips are in the correct spot for your glutes to their job. All you need to is stand against a wall for this. Line up your heels, tailbone, upper back and head against a wall. Take your hand and slide it in the space between your back and the wall. If you can get the knuckle of your ring finger through, then there is a good chance your pelvis tilts too far forward.

7.IF IT DOESN’T LOOK RIGHT, IT PROBABLY DOESN’T MOVE RIGHT. To avoid painful knee’s, we need mobile feet and hips. Your body and brain are so smart that they can just create new movement patterns to get the job of movement done. For instance, if your feet aren’t mobile enough to transfer weight from one leg to the other, your knee will try by traveling in more than it should. You will find a clue that this is the case if you find any irregularities in your feet but to test if this is happening, try the standing rotation assessment. All you do is take a duck stance, and rotate your arms in one direction and then the next. You will note any strain in your leg opposite of the twist and whether your foot was mobile enough to allow you to move. Second, we need to know if your hip can move. For us, it is important to know whether or not, your leg can extend behind you. People with tight hip flexor muscles, wont be able to extend their leg behind them with turning it at an angle. You can do the step back and arm raise assessment to test this. Just face a mirror and keep your hips parallel with it. Step back with your right leg and raise your right. If you toes turned out on the step back this would be another clue that you have some tightness in your hips that are making it hard on your knee.

8. MAKE IT MOVE. Pain-relief exercise therapy really isn’t that complicated. After you have determined that you have parts that aren’t moving correctly, you have do what it takes to make them work. This means if they don’t bend then you address by doing the  things to make them bend and stop doing the things that are preventing them from bending. Easy, right?

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