Knee pain is a common complaint - but is it really your knees fault?
Could it be your stiff ankles or hips?
I recently attended a seminar which was about lower limb biomechanics and low back pain. The speaker (Jon Mulholland) made an interesting observation. From his many years working with high performance runners and athletes (including the Kiwis Olympic track cycling teams) he has often found that
"unless direct trauma is involved - eg a blow to the knee, the most common cause of knee pain is from problems stemming from the joint above or below".
(see the previous blog on the Joint by Joint approach)
This means that perhaps you need to be taking a long hard look at your Hips or Ankles for the cause of your pain.
Now before you think this is a crazy - perhaps you need to consider what happens at these joints that cause your knee to struggle.
Lets consider the ankle first.
Coming up with normal ranges for the human body is sometimes difficult - but a well accepted test is the weight bearing lunge test for ankle dorsiflexion.
You can do this test yourself by planting your foot firmly on the ground (with your big toe about 10cm away from a wall).
You want to try to let the knee travel out over the toes until it touches the wall. You cant let your heel come off the ground, your knee drop inwards or let your arch drop.
If you can keep good form and touch the wall easily - move your foot backwards until you can find your max distance and then compare the other side. If you cant touch the wall at 10cm then move your foot closer until you can.
Most people agree that you should aim for 10-12.5cm distance from the wall to not be thought restricted.