Alterations to Walking and Running habits can Reduce Knee Joint Stress
July 20, 2016
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture of the Knee and Patella Femoral Pain (pain within the knee cap region) are two common sports injuries that share the same risk factors for injury. The Risk factors that lead to both these Injuries include 1) Increased Knee Valgus and 2) Excessive ground Reaction Force.
Knee Valgus (angling inwards of knee Joint)
Increased Knee Valgus is the falling inwards of the Knee joint when Running, turning, Landing position from Jumping and even walking. So Knee valgus is the collapse of the right knee inwards towards the left. Weaknesses in the Foot and Hip mechanics may be causing this valgus inward collapse. A solution is to alter our running or walking style so that we don’t allow the knee to fall inwards when the foot strikes the ground and similarly so when our foot pushes off the ground. Hence greater understanding of this movement technique that can reduce knee stress. So by keeping a larger keep between our knee joints during movement we help reduce knee joint stress.
Normal Knee Angle Versus Knee Valgus Angle
Excessive Heel Strike
Secondly Excessive Ground Reactive Force simply means the force or pressure at which our foot strikes the ground when running or walking. Many of us are ‘Heal Strikers’ which means our initial contact with the ground during walking or running is with the heal. This places huge load forces through the knee joint. However if we shorten the length of our step and change our initial step contact with the ground to striking with mid-foot or front (fore) foot instead of initial strike contact being with the heal then we dramatically reduce the load force and stress that comes through the knee joint. Shorter steps can serve to make us move quicker because we have a faster cadence (foot strikes per minute) and use less body energy.
These are alterations to our walking and running patterns that can reduce weigh load on the knee and hence reduce knee pain. Please seek guidance and an assessment from your Physio before attempting to introduce these movement alterations.
Tomás Ryan is a Registered Physical Therapist (MIAPT) with The Irish Association of Physical Therapy and is based in Clonmel & Thurles.
Contact Number: 0504 26672
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