We’ll start this article off with a disclaimer. We are not medical professionals. Our advice below is for inflammatory irritations NOT an acute injury. These techniques have worked for us and our clients, they are not the only techniques that will work or even the best techniques for you.
If you have suffered an acute injury which has lead to sharp pain, shooting pain, numbing, tingling, deformity, excessive swelling or constant dull achy pain that won’t go away you should pay a visit to your PCP, Urgent Care or a specific orthopedic specialist.
If after you seek medical advice and there is no structural damage to your knee joint and if your pain is dull, low level achiness or the occasional low level sharp pain that is just hanging around then this guide is for you.
What To Do When Knee Pain Strikes
Our knees can be quite the sensitive joint.
One wrong squat, movement pattern or extra amount of volume or impact could lead to inflammation.
Do one of of these things and your pain should get better.
Do them all and it definitely will get better.
Before diving into your specific knee pain management techniques, if you aren’t focusing on the following healthy lifestyle habits in some capacity then you will only find yourself in a regular state of inflammatory injuries and frustration.
Don’t worry about the other things if you aren’t focusing on the things below in some capacity.
#1. Getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep a night.
#2. Hydrating with at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.
#3. Eating real foods. Limit inflammatory causing/processed foods.
#4. Practice stress management techniques/limit stress.
#5. TAKE A REST AND RECOVERY DAY ONCE A WEEK (AT LEAST).
If you’re having trouble with these habits, our Nutrition and Wellness Coach EJ can help you work on and stay consistent with these habits!
If you are focusing on the above lifestyle habits then you are ready to move on to knee specific protocols below.
Knee Pain Management and Rehab Plan
#1. Scale things back on the lower body for at least two weeks/until the knee pain starts to improve.
Cut your weights in half for what you would normally do. If your 1 rep max is 300, your current 1 rep max is 150 and base your percentages off of that.
It may seem like you’ll get weaker doing this but you’ll likely actually get stronger with some sensible active recovery and more recovery in general for your lower body.
If you normally do 24kg for goblet squats, do 16kg.
135lbs squat clean, do 75lbs. It should be easy.
115lbs squat snatch, do 65lbs. It should be easy.
Wall balls go from 20lbs to 14lbs.
Continue to try lower body exercises while scaling appropriately. If the movement takes you more than 2 points ahead on the pain scale then you should avoid that movement for the time being.
Moving with minimal pain through lower body movements will be a key in helping you recover.
#2. Avoid/limit impact for at least a week, ideally 2 weeks or until pain starts to improve.
Running goes to rowing, biking, swimming, or ski erging.
Double-unders go to swings, low box step-ups (12″ or less) or other cardio (row,bike,ski)
#3. Make fast/more dynamic movements slower for now.
A squat snatch turns into a power snatch + slow and steady overhead squat.
A squat clean turns in to a power clean + slow and steady front squat.
A Flip squat turns into a flip + pause+ slow goblet squat.
Do lighter weight front squats, back squats and overhead squat at a tempo, 2-3 seconds down, add a pause at parallel.
#4. Any lower body movements that cause pain after being scaled back in weight should be switched to lower body pulling movements.
If a front or back squat causes pain after going light then switch to a good morning or deadlift.
If a squat clean or squat snatch at light weight hurts then switch to a power clean/snatch or muscle clean/snatch (minimal to no jumping).
If a wall ball hurts after going lighter switch to a kettlebell swing.
If a lunge or step up hurts after going lighter switch to a single leg RDL.
#4. Regular soft tissue work.
Rollout quads, IT bands and calves at least 2x a week.
Follow part #1 of the routine below:
Bonus would be to do the second stretching section of the routine below.
If you can’t do this or aren’t motivated to do it then check out a specialist like Reach Bodywork
to get some regular bodywork done.
#5. Regular glute medius routine 2x a week.
Try to do the following exercises without resting in between.
How to do them:
Lay on your side with your legs stacked on top of eachother.
Point your top toes down and in.
Keep your upper hip angled slightly forward.
Only raise your leg 12-18 inches above your lower leg, keep constant tension on your glutes.
10x Forward and Backward
10x Forward circles
10x Backward circles
10x Bicycle pedal
#6. Regular mini band glutes of steel routine 2x a week, ideally before a lower body workout but anytime is better than no time.
Secondary tips that might make a bit of a difference as well.
*New, more supportive or cushy shoes based on your foot structure.
*Wearing compressive knee sleeves to help warm-up and lubricate the knee joints, especially in the winter months.
Follow any of the tips above and your knee pain should improve.
Follow them all and your health, fitness and knee pain will definitely improve!
Feeling stuck with your pain or health and fitness in general?
YOU GOT THIS!