Q: My knees are often sore. Should I avoid exercise?

A: It’s easy to assume that if your knees hurt during general daily activities that there is something wrong with them and it’s tempting to do less so that the pain isn’t experienced as often. This unfortunately often leads to the knee becoming weaker and more unstable, which tends to make things a whole lot worse. In many cases it is not even the knee that is the issue.

The knee is merely the ‘meeting place’ for the femur (thigh) and the tibia and fibula (lower leg). That meeting place is often the expression of what is occurring above or below it. What we feel at the knee is usually a symptom of what is happening at the hip, ankle and/or the foot. This means that if you have an imbalance, weakness or  tightness in any of the musculature around the hip, it will affect the position and movement of the femur.

Likewise, poor foot biomechanics, improper shoes, calf tightness/weakness and ankle instability will all affect what happens at the knee. Simply trying to ‘treat’ the knee pain directly with ice, heat packs and/or inactivity will not fix the problem. Aim to strengthen weak muscles, loosen and release tight muscles and correct any biomechanical issues with the way you walk and the shoes you wear.