Is your knee talking to you? - Breakaway Physical Therapy
Shaina Clemons Health Tips

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Is your knee talking to you?

Knee Pain
  • Is your knee talking to you?
  • Do you wake up in the morning and don’t want to get out of bed because when you take a step and your knee starts aching?
  • Do you feel off balance and unstable around your knee joint?
  • Do you look for support or something to grab a hold of as you walk through your house to make sure that you don’t fall?

Knee Pain is Something That People Struggle Through Every Day. 

They muster up the energy to get through their workday, but then don’t enjoy all the weekend festivities because their knee is holding them back.

They miss walking around DC to see the beautiful cherry blossoms this time of year. They have to hire someone or find some friends to help with mulching the yard, picking the weeds and planting their flowers because they can’t bend their knee that much to get on the ground (or really back up off the ground). And they have to watch from the sidelines as their kids play sports without being able to help them practice or play around in the backyard because of their knee.

Does this sound like you at all? 

Well, life is short and today is the day to learn some tips to start working on your knee and body overall to make some positive improvements in the right direction! Let’s get to it!


Ease into Exercise and Activity

  • We spend the winter months inside more often than not and you don’t want to go from the couch to hiking 5 miles overnight.
  • Start slow and build up your activity level.
  • Plan out how you will ramp up your activity and use the rule of adding no more than 10% on your overall mileage per week. Then every 4th week, dial back your mileage by 10% to prevent injury.

Heat Versus Ice Debate

When to use which and how often to apply

Heat is great for stiffness and promotes increased circulation to the tissues.

  • Think about a hot shower in the morning- if that is feeling good to your joints, then applying heat will also feel great.
  • 15 minutes and apply multiple times throughout the day as needed
  • Do NOT fall asleep with a heating pad, even on the lowest setting you can burn your skin. Set a timer to take it off before bed and make sure that this doesn’t happen!
  • Think of heat as a warm-up for your muscles, getting them loose and ready for activity! Meaning you can put some heat on the knee joint before you go outside for your walks, runs, hiking, biking and more.

Ice is great for reducing pain AND reduces swelling in the knee joint and surrounding tissues.

  • Think of the ice bath that athletes use except on a smaller scale – it is numbing to reduce the discomfort
  • 10 minutes of ice and apply as needed for pain (about once an hour to let the tissues recover between applications)
  • Also use after activity to reduce swelling, even if you can’t see it
  • When you have an acute injury, ice is the ideal to use for the first 48-72 hours to reduce inflammation in the area

Find Your Feet

  • Our feet help to support our body from the ground up
  • Put a towel under your toes and work on trying to pick it up with your toes OR try to pick up some marbles with your toes. This will get all the little muscles in your feet to wake up and work to help support your body with walking and moving around.
  • Come try out our balance beam! At Breakaway Physical Therapy, we have a new balance beam that will really wake up your feet as you walk across it!

Support Your Feet

  • Have your foot measured to make sure that you are buying shoes that are wide enough AND provide enough support without it being too much support.
  • Consider orthotics! Come check out our Foot Levelers Scanner and you can see what is going on with the arches of your feet in just a few minutes. This will help guide you on proper footwear to buy and even give you some options for custom flip flops so that you can enjoy the Spring and Summer months without having your body suffering the consequences.

Try a Quad Set

  • Try this exercise where you sit down and put your leg out straight in front of you. If you can, roll up a small towel to prop under your ankle to raise up your foot. Then tighten your quad muscle (the big muscle on the top of your leg) as you push your knee down to straighten your leg as much as possible.
  • Hold this for 5 seconds and then repeat it 10 times. Do this on both legs. 1x/day

Work up to a long Arc Quad

  • If a quad set is easy after trying it for a couple of days, then work up to a long arc quad.
  • Start seated in a chair and kick your leg out straight. Then slowly lower it back down.
  • Repeat this 10 times and work up to 2 sets of 10. Do this on both legs and complete 1x/day

Stretch Your Leg!

Hamstring Stretch

Start seated in a chair and put your heel on the ground. Push down above the knee joint so that you are gently pushing your leg straight. You should feel a stretch in the back of the knee joint. Hold this for 30 seconds and then repeat 3 times. Try on the other leg. Complete 1-3x/day

Calf Stretch

Start in standing and you can use your kitchen counter for support. Bend the front knee, then step the other leg back behind the front one and plant your foot on the ground with your toes facing forwards. Gently lean into the stretch as you emphasize your back leg being straight and bending your front knee more. Hold this for 30 seconds and then repeat 3 times. Do this on both legs and complete 1-3 x/day.


Strengthen Your Bottom

  • Your gluteal muscles need to be strong to support your hips, knees and pelvis for all the movements that you want your body to do.
  • Start with a gluteal set as you lay down on your back. Straighten your legs or get them in a comfortable position so that you can then squeeze your bottom muscles. Tighten then holding for 5 seconds and repeat this 10 times. Do this 1x/day
  • Progress to a bridge if the glut set are easy for you!
  • Start laying on your back with your knees bent. Squeeze your bottom muscles (just like when you did the glut set) and lift your bottom of the table or floor you are on. Hold your hips in the air for 5 seconds and then repeat it 10 times. Do this 1x/day

Have Your Walking Form Looked at

  • It’s important that we have a physical therapist look at our walking form, slow down the movement and see what is going on with our body. Sometimes our feet are not hitting the ground in the correct fashion, sometimes we are not picking up our legs as much as we need, sometimes we are swinging our hips instead of lifting up from the hip. You get the point that we probably do not even notice HOW we are walking and what can be improved.
  • An objective eye is always important to point out how we can better move our body with walking!

Have Your Running Form Assessed

  • Running is faster than walking and very difficult to figure out why our joints are hurting and what our body is doing wrong. Have a physical therapist look at your running form to make sure that your foot is not slamming down into the ground causing a jarring motion through the entire spine. Make sure that you are not shuffling your feet and more!
  • Running drills can be extremely beneficial to practice all the movements that your body is not doing correctly to help your overall form instead of just running longer or faster.
  • Practice makes permanent! Practicing the proper form is a million times more important than just practicing for longer without the best quality of movement.

Check in with Your Neighborhood Movement Experts - Your Physical Therapists at Breakaway PT

  • At Breakaway PT, we are trained to not only check out what is going on with your knee…we will be looking at your feet, hips, walking, running form and more.
  • The whole body is important to address and not just the joint that is hurting or talking to you with pain. If we ignore what is going on with the rest of your body, then we miss key areas of the body that help to make your knee work best to do all the things that you love.

Come see us for a free Breakthrough Visit where you can sit down, talk with your physical therapist to let them know exactly what is going on with your body to form a plan of action. We want to find the best fit for you and that may be trying some of the exercises and activities above OR it may be meeting with us to put together a specific plan for YOUR body!

Looking forward to meeting you and hope you enjoy all the ideas to get you stronger to live your best life!


Shaina Clemons

Shaina Clemons

Shaina is the founder and owner of Breakaway Physical Therapy.  She received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Maryland Baltimore, along with a Bachelor's degree from Towson University.   Shaina is an Ironman triathlete, with a love of all sports. Exercise is her passion, which plays an important role in both her personal and professional life.  In her free time, Shaina enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children.  Shaina's love of snowboarding led her to her career choice many years ago. 
Shaina Clemons

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