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Rest May Not Be Best for Knee Pain

People with Runner’s Knee Report Greater Improvements with Light Exercise over Rest

Could the advice to "stay off that knee" for knee pain be hurting more than helping?  Researchers think so.

Could the advice to "stay off that knee" for knee pain be hurting more than helping? Researchers think so.

Exercise carries a risk of injury.  No two ways about it.  And if you injure yourself in, say, the knee area—one of the more common injuries for runners and joggers alike—the typical advice is to stay off the knee and stay out of the gym.  After all, if you want something to heal, you have to give it the time to rest, right?

But a new study in the British Medical Journal is turning this conventional wisdom on its head, with a finding that certainly seems counterintuitive.  According to their results, a better way to solve knee pain is not by resting but by exercising.

The researchers discovered this somewhat surprising finding after recruiting 131 people with a condition called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, or PFPS.  PFPS is actually a fairly common knee problem that is characterized by constant pain around the knee cap and is something runners often complain of (that’s probably the reason why PFPS is also known as Runner’s Knee).

Sixty-five of the participants were given detailed information on how to exercise properly and in ways that would cause as little pain as possible in the course of their exercise regimen.  The remaining 66 did some exercises, but for the most part, they rested their knee and performed very few exercises.

To gauge whether or not their knee pain improved, the participants were supplied with a series of questions that enabled them to accurately determine how much (or how little) the exercise or rest was affecting their knee health.  They took these assessments at the start of the study, at the three-month mark and at the study’s conclusion, or after one year.

While there wasn’t universal improvement with one treatment over the other, exercising was deemed a better treatment because, well, more people reported improvements compared to prolonged periods of rest.  For instance, at the three-month mark, 42 percent of the exercisers reported reduced pain compared to the 35 percent that felt better after resting.  And at the 12-month mark, an overwhelming majority of the exercisers reported reduced pain (62 percent) versus the bear majority that felt better after resting (51 percent).

Now it goes without saying—but I’ll say it anyway—that if your knee pain is such that you can’t bear standing without writhing in agony, then by all means DON’T EXERCISE.  But if your pain is similar to the pain felt by people with Runner’s Knee (e.g., pain in the knee cap after sitting for prolonged periods of time, pain when running downhill or walking down stairways), then light amounts of exercise may be just what the doctor ordered.

As always, you should consult a physical therapist about what exercises would be best for you, but I’m willing to bet that he or she will advise you do some stretching and strengthening exercises.  Because Runner’s Knee is often a function of weak quadriceps muscles, some of the exercise he or she will likely recommend include isometrics, straight leg lifts, as well has hip adductor and abductor exercises.

He or she may also suggest you purchase a different kind of shoe; people with Runner’s Knee often overpronate when they run and certain shoes can help to minimize that tendency.

Sources:
drpribut.com
familydoctor.org
sciencedaily.com
medicalnewstoday.com

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Comments

Comment from rozzini
Time April 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I had knee pains when I was 13 after an accident while riding my bike home. I started becoming immobile coz I couldn’t stand the pain. I tried several exercises and even knee braces but it didn’t work. My mom made me drink Supple. As what I researched, It’s a daily supplement drink to comfort, lubricate and rebuild joints. Supple Drink has only 30 calories and only 4g sugars so it also helps you lose weight [I lost weight too! I LOVE IT! :) )] and fits into the energized lifestyle you need to get your joints back in top condition. After drinking Supple for 2 days, i felt amazing relief. I continue drinking it until now. I also recommend you guys to try it. It really is effective :D

For more information, click on the link: http://tinyurl.com/29mdno3

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