Not everyone knows how to treat their knee right to promote healing and reduce pain. Both athletes and everyday professionals share common mistakes that can make your knee pain worse, elongate the time you feel pain, or even get in the way of healing. So today, we’re here to share the top ten most common mistakes in treating knee pain and how to correct them.
1. MISJUDGING THE CAUSE OR SEVERITY OF THE PAIN
The first and most common mistake in knee pain treatment is underestimating the severity of your condition. An injury may seem like ‘no big deal’ at first, until the pain becomes intense or does not heal in a normal amount of time. A worsening medical condition might be being made worse because you are not taking the proper precautions. You may also be surprised by the intensity of knee pain if you have been treating your knees poorly in the past.
DO IT RIGHT:
To avoid this mistake, make sure to check with your doctor as soon as you experience a knee injury or when knee pain manifests. Do not assume that you automatically know the extent of an injury or condition. Visit a medical facility and have your knee examined by a physician and x-rayed if your doctor feels this is appropriate. This way, you know exactly what you’re dealing with and how to treat your knee correctly.
2. CONTINUING YOUR REGULAR WORKOUT ROUTINE
When you suffer a knee injury or a condition develops, many dedicated athletes and casual exercise enthusiasts make the mistake of continuing their routine as if nothing has changed. You may continue your morning runs, your gym workouts, or your favorite yoga routines through or around the knee pain.
This is a critical mistake for two reasons. First, the routine you built before your knee was injured is likely too intense on the knees to continue unchanged after the injury. You are highly likely to make the condition worse, prevent healing, or even reinjure yourself. Second, a slowly developed knee pain might be caused by some aspect of your regular routine, from high-impact exercises to poor knee form when running or exercising.
DO IT RIGHT:
You don’t have to stop exercising entirely to treat your knee pain. Simply change your routine to account for the fact that one knee needs rest and low-impact activity to recover. Work around the knee and focus on ways to exercise that exclude one leg entirely. Depending on the type of your knee pain, a knee brace might help to take the pressure off and allow you to return to a more normal workout routine without pain or added risk.
3. WEARING THE WRONG SHOES
Few people realize just how important your shoes are to knee health. In fact, they’re vital to ankle, knee, and hip health because your shoes determine the angle at which you stand. The shape of your shoe soles and inserts positions your feet which aligns your entire leg up to the hip. The right shoes can ease pain from the ankles to the lower back while the wrong shoes can put your knees out of alignment and cause increasing pain over time.
DO IT RIGHT:
Consult with an orthopedic doctor and experiment with different shoes until you find a pair that does not aggravate your knee pain. A knee brace can help you in the interim as you shop around for the right pair of corrective shoes.
4. RESTING TOO MUCH
Believe it or not, even resting can be a mistake when treating your knee pain on a daily basis. Rest is an important part of knee injury treatment and the treatment for several conditions that can result in knee pain. But resting too much can cause your knee to grow weak, which can increase your chance of experiencing pain or worsening the original cause of your pain.
Fully immobilizing your knee can cause muscles and tendons to heal short and weak, unable to stretch comfortably or hold as much weight as your knee did before the injury. Resting your knee too much by not using it at all can also weaken the knee joint which may make future pain and injury more likely.
DO IT RIGHT:
Follow your doctor’s directions when it comes to how much rest your knee truly needs to recover. Both on a daily and long-term basis. Only fully immobilize your knee on doctor’s orders, and only for as long as prescribed. If you’re keeping weight off the knee, use doctor’s advice and your best judgement to determine when it’s safe to start easing back into normal walking and exercise activities.
Once your knee has recovered enough, it’s usually best to do recovery knee exercises as your knee heals to increase flexibility and strength when you’re finally able to return to normal activities.
5. REFUSING TO WEAR A BRACE
Many athletes and professionals dodge wearing a knee brace even when it’s the most practical and medically advisable way to recover. Knee braces come in many types and functions. A rigid or hinged knee brace can help keep your knee in alignment and take some of the weight off while you recover from a severe injury or condition.
A compression knee brace can distribute pressure on the knee, reduce swelling, and keep the joint warm while completing your recovery and to prevent future painful incidents. By refusing to wear a knee brace, you are robbing yourself of an important tool for both recovery and pain reduction.
DO IT RIGHT:
If your doctor recommends a knee brace for knee pain treatment or recover, wear it. Set a timer or reminders to make sure you remember to put it on before moving around, and to take it off if your doctor advises time without the brace as well. Don’t be shy about experimenting with different types of knee braces to find what holds your knee in the most comfortable and supportive position.
6. FORGETTING TO ICE OR HEAT REGULARLY
Whether your knee pain comes from an injury or condition, ice and heat can work wonders for both reducing knee pain and promoting faster healing. But few people remember to apply ice or heat as frequently as the RICE method and doctors recommend. This is understandable. Constantly refilling an ice pack or heating a hot pad can get pretty tedious throughout the day, and holding the pack to your knee occupies one entire hand. You’ve got to live your life, but it’s also best to try and ice or heat as often as you can.
DO IT RIGHT:
The optimal schedule for knee icing or heating is 30 minutes every two hours. Get as close to this as you can, or use temperature as needed to treat your knee pain. Certain types of knee brace actually include pockets where you can slip in an ice pack or hot pad so you can treat your knee hands-free. Consider making use of a mini-fridge, a small microwave, or an electric kettle to provide a constant supply of ice or heat packs.
7. HIGH-IMPACT ACTIVITY
When your knee is mostly healed or the chronic pain is minimal, it can be tempting to throw yourself back into your favorite workout routine or take on a high-impact task like hauling boxes up or down stairs. However, if you’re still recovering or experience regular knee pain, this is a bad idea. Do not go high-impact running, start doing heavy-lifting tasks, or intense contact sports while your knee is in a weakened state.
DO IT RIGHT:
Judge your level of activity carefully. For each choice you make, consider how much stress you are putting on the knee in question. Be conscious of the weight you’re putting on the knee, how hard your knee will accept that weight (ex: running and jumping), and any twisting or torqueing, as with field sports.
8. OVERLOOKING BODY WEIGHT
Finally, don’t forget to consider how much weight you are putting directly on your knees. For anyone experiencing a long recovery, recurring knee problems, or a knee condition that will never fully heal; body weight is a serious consideration. Having densely built muscles or being overweight can both put more weight on your knee that it is prepared to handle. If you haven’t been able to achieve satisfactory knee pain treatment up to this point, a focus on weight loss or methods to take weight off the knee are an important next step.
The less weight your knee holds on a daily basis, and for each activity, the easier it will be to recover or avoid pain in the future.
DO IT RIGHT:
Now is not the time for a crash diet. Instead, start thinking about healthy ways to cut back your current weight, whether it is muscle, fat, or both that are making you heavier than usual. Consult with your doctor and nutrition experts on how to get all the nutrients you need while cutting down on calories. If you need to lose muscle weight for knee recovery, make sure to do so carefully so that you remain fit at a lower weight.
Dealing with knee pain can hold you back in work, school, and personal fitness goals. Whether you’re dealing with a medical condition or recovering from a recent injury, the right home treatment makes a real difference.