Foot Health Blog
Find expert articles from physical therapists and podiatrists to help understand, diagnose, and treat different foot health issues such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, and more.
KneeGet Back on Track: 6 Strengthening Exercises for Runner's KneeDoes your knee throb after a run? Is going downstairs a challenge due to persistent knee pain? You may be experiencing runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). PFPS, characterized by pain around or behind the kneecap, is often a result of overuse, muscle imbalances, weak thigh or hip muscles, or flat feet. Its telltale symptoms include discomfort while walking downstairs, sitting with bent knees, or—unsurprisingly—running. While rest, ice, and physiotherapy can soothe the symptoms of PFPS, the key to truly overcoming this nagging condition lies in strengthening exercises. Of course, some exercises are better than others, and the right routine can bring you back to your active lifestyle very quickly. 6 Exercises for Runner's Knee Here are six exercises that treat Runner’s knee by strengthening the muscles around the knee joint and improving overall stability and range of motion. Donkey KicksClamshellsStraight Leg LiftStep-UpsLeg ExtensionsWall Slides 1. Donkey Kicks Donkey kicks are a go-to exercise to strengthen the glutes, hips, and lower back muscles. Why does this matter? These muscles are responsible for stabilizing your knees, which in turn alleviates PFPS symptoms. To perform the exercise, start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keeping your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle, raise your leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Lower your leg back down and repeat 15-20 times. Keep your core engaged and your back flat throughout the exercise. You can further modify the exercise by adding ankle weights. 2. Clamshells Clamshells specifically target the hip muscles, improving the overall stability and balance in the lower body—crucial factors in managing the symptoms of runner's knee. To perform the exercise, begin in a side-lying position with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep the leg to be exercised on top. Keep your feet and ankles together, and lift your top knee. Lower the knee slowly and repeat 10-15 times. You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by using a resistance band around your thighs. Also, you should avoid tilting your pelvis or rotating your hips during the motion. 3. Straight Leg Lift The straight leg lift targets the quadriceps—those muscles at the front of your thigh. By strengthening your quads, you're fortifying the knee joint, improving stability, and helping to alleviate the symptoms of runner's knee. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your toes pointing up toward the ceiling.Press the back of your knee down to tighten the muscles in the front of your thigh.Slowly lift your leg towards the ceiling, keeping it straight until it is at least 45 degrees off the ground.Hold the position for five seconds, then slowly lower your leg back to its starting position.Repeat for 10-15 repetitions. 4. Step-Ups Step-ups strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, alleviating the pressure on the knee. To perform the exercise, start by standing in front of an elevated platform that is at most knee height (a stair or stepping stool) and place a foot on the step. Shift all your weight to this foot, pressing down through your heel to lift your body onto the step. Hold the position for about 15 seconds, keeping your foot off the ground and your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the exercise. Slowly return to starting position and repeat 10-15 times. 5. Leg Extensions Leg extensions can be performed as a bodyweight exercise or with the use of a resistance band. This exercise targets the quadriceps muscles and helps strengthen the knee joint. Bodyweight Leg Extensions Kneel on the floor with your toes pointed behind you. Keep your back straight, ensuring your body forms one straight line from your head to your knees. Pre-tension your knees by squeezing your quads and tightening your core. With your arms clenched by your side, lean back until you reach your limit, then hold this position for a second.Return to your starting position by tightening your quadriceps. Repeat as many times as possible. Banded Leg Extensions Wrap one end of the resistance band around the back leg of a chair or sturdy object.Sit on the chair and loop the other end of the band around your ankles, securing it in place. Keep your back straight, your knees at a 90-degree angle, and your feet flat on the floor.Slowly straighten your legs till you reach your limits. 6. Heel Wall Slides Wall slides, while seemingly simple, are incredibly beneficial for those battling runner's knee. To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your feet towards the wall. Place your unaffected leg against the wall, keeping only the sole in contact with the wall. Extend your affected leg with your heel against the wall, then slowly bend your knee and slide your heel down the wall as far as you can. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then use your unaffected foot to help lift your affected foot back to the starting position. Lower your unaffected foot back to its starting position. Repeat as many times as possible, maintaining proper form and engaging the quadriceps muscles throughout the movement. Fitness Tip!Consider incorporating a warm-up and cool-down period into your running routine. These practices could help reduce the risk of knee injuries. Stride to Recovery Incorporating these exercises into your routine can be a game-changer for those suffering from runner's knee. They not only help alleviate pain but also fortify your knees against future injuries. That being said, remember that a comprehensive approach to managing PFPS often reaps the best results. Consider additional supports, such as running custom orthotics. For instance, Upstep offers custom orthotics that provide targeted support, shock absorption, and improved leg alignment. This can alleviate pressure on the knee joint and offer relief from discomfort. Keep moving, keep strengthening, and most importantly—keep running!
KneeStretch Your Way to Patellar Tendonitis ReliefAre you experiencing knee pain after your latest workout or sports activity? You might be suffering from patellar tendonitis, a common condition that is often dubbed "jumper's knee." The symptoms of patellar tendonitis are hard to ignore. You might feel pain and tenderness, experience swelling in the front of the knee, and notice stiffness and weakness. These symptoms often worsen with physical activity and improve with rest. If these sound familiar, don't worry—there's a practical solution at your fingertips: stretching! While rest, ice, and physical therapy are commonly recommended interventions, incorporating specific patellar tendonitis stretches into your daily routine can offer significant pain relief and prevent further injury. Ready to learn some effective stretches to combat patellar tendonitis? Let's dive in! Best Stretches for Patellar Tendonitis Quadriceps StretchWall Calf StretchKneeling Hip Flexor StretchSeated Toe TouchHamstring Stretch Quadriceps Stretch Tight thigh muscles, or quadriceps, can increase the strain on your patellar tendon, causing more knee pain. The quadriceps stretch actively targets these muscles, improving your knee's flexibility and reducing pain. Here's how to perform it: Stand facing a wall or chair for balance. Bend one knee and grasp your ankle with the same hand. Pull your heel towards your buttocks until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Remember to tighten your core and keep your knees close together to avoid straining the knee joint. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Did you know?Patellar tendonitis is typically caused by overuse or repetitive stress on the patellar tendon, leading to tiny tears and subsequent inflammation. It can also occur due to a sudden increase in activity level, improper technique, or biomechanical abnormalities in the knee joint. Wall Calf Stretch Tight calf muscles can also place additional strain on the patellar tendon, leading to inflammation and pain. The wall calf stretch is designed to alleviate pain by targeting any tight calf muscles, reducing the tension on the patellar tendon, and improving the overall flexibility of your lower leg muscles. Here's how to do it: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall for support at eye level. Place one foot in front of the other, with the foot to be stretched behind. Ensure your back leg is straight and your heel is on the ground. Slowly lean forward, bending your front knee. You should feel a stretch in the calf muscle of your back leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then release and repeat on the other leg. » Having knee trouble? Here are the best exercises for knee arthritis Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch Adding the kneeling hip flexor stretch into your daily routine can be a great way to alleviate pain associated with patellar tendonitis. The kneeling hip flexor stretch targets the hip flexor muscles located at the front of the hip, helping improve the flexibility of the muscles, leading to reduced pain and discomfort in your knee joint. Here's how you can perform the kneeling hip flexor stretch: Kneel on a mat or any soft surface and place one leg forward and the other knee on the ground behind you, forming a 90-degree angle at the hip and knee. Slowly lean forward onto the front leg until you feel a comfortable stretch in the hip of the rear leg. Place your hands on the front knee for support if necessary.Maintain the stretch position for 20-30 seconds and then release. Repeat on the other side. » Find out if orthotic insoles can help with knee pain Seated Toe Touch The seated toe touch stretch increases the flexibility of the muscles of your lower back and hamstrings. This reduces the strain on the knee joint and enhances your overall mobility. Here's how you do it: Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you, back straight, and feet flexed. Reach toward one foot with both hands. If you can't touch your toes, no problem! You can reach for your ankles or shins instead. Do this until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg and your lower back. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then release and alternate between your two legs. » Does your knee hurt when squatting? Here's how to fix it Hamstring Stretch Tight hamstrings can also contribute to patellar tendonitis. By stretching the hamstrings, you can help reduce the strain on the knee joint and improve overall mobility. To perform the hamstring stretch: Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a door frame.Raise one leg and rest the heel of the same leg against the wall.Slowly straighten your lifted leg until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.Switch legs and repeat as many times as possible. Say Goodbye to Knee Pain Incorporating these five stretches into your daily routine can significantly alleviate the pain associated with patellar tendonitis. Regular practice can prevent further knee injuries and improve your flexibility. For more comprehensive pain relief, consider complementing these exercises with Upstep's Multi-Sports Custom Orthotics. These custom-made orthotics provide additional support and shock absorption, reducing the impact of movement on the knees and helping to prevent further damage to the patellar tendon.
KneeCan Knee Pain Be Caused by Overpronation of the Foot?The knee works together with the hip and ankle to transfer weight from the back and pelvis to the ground during walking or running. If there is pain, moving the knee becomes an inconvenience and can be uncomfortable. Interestingly, knee pain has a myriad of causes, some of which exist outside of the knee joint itself. One such cause is foot overpronation. What Is Overpronation of the Foot? Overpronation is the inward turn of the ankle and foot during heel strikes when you take a step. As a result, you push off with the big toe and second toe instead of the forefoot. How Overpronation Might Cause Knee Pain With each step, the foot continues to twist more, causing tibial rotation. At the same time, the upper leg is rotating in the opposite direction. The two opposing forces meet at the knee, leading to excessive strain on the knee joint. To compensate for the excessive force, the knee takes up a knock-kneed position. This leads to even more muscles exerting their force in an abnormal direction. The internal rotation of the knees can cause the patella to pull in the wrong direction. The grinding of the patella over unusual areas can result in injury and pain, which is often felt when the knee is bent during activities like squatting, climbing stairs, sitting on a low stool, cycling, etc. This pain is known as patellofemoral pain syndrome. Asides from this, the excessive foot pronation and upper leg rotation can also cause inflammation and irritation around the knee cap. The iliotibial band on the outside of the knee can easily become inflamed in such a situation, leading to iliotibial band pain syndrome. In such a case, pain is felt on the outside of the knee. Also, the continuous push-off with the big and second toe while walking leads to foot instability, and unstable feet can easily cause falls and lead to a knee injury. Knee pain can also be caused by knee arthritis. Read our post to learn more about relieving pain from knee arthritis. Other Dangers of Overpronation Overpronation can cause more than overpronation. There are several other possible complications. Some of them include: Heel pain This is the pain that occurs behind, beneath, or in the heel bone.Achilles tendinopathy Straining the Achilles tendon will result in irritation and inflammation.Shin splints This overuse injury is caused by increased force transmitted through the lower leg.Bunions This is a bony outgrowth on the outside of the big toe due to continuously bearing weight.Stress fracture Stress fractures are caused by very small cracks in the weight-bearing bones of the feet and lower legs.Low back pain Though the two might seem unrelated, overpronation can cause lower back pain. How to Treat Knee Pain Caused by Overpronation Knee pain caused by overpronation is susceptible to conservative treatment if initiated early. The earlier the intervention, the better the prognosis. These treatment methods include: Activity Modification Poor technique, form, or activity volume can exacerbate symptoms. For example, you might experience knee pain when squatting, so it may be necessary to modify this activity to manage knee pain. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) Like most acute injuries, the RICE method limits inflammation and relieves pain. Depending on the level of inflammation, it may be used in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Custom Orthotics Custom orthotics are designed to support your foot arch and correct abnormal foot motions. They help reposition the foot, leg, and knee, reducing contrarian forces and improving stability. They also cushion the feet while maintaining flexibility. Exercises A combination of stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles of the lower limb and foot will help correct the alignment of the ankles and knees. Taping and Bracing These can also provide motion control, limiting abnormal movement of the lower leg and foot during movement. Physical Therapy A physiotherapist can help address pain from overpronation using TENS, ultrasound therapy, and several other methods. Also, they can retrain your gaits and recommend activity modification in such a way as to limit overpronation during foot motion. Proper Footwear Appropriate footwear is crucial if overpronation is to become a thing of the past. The best footwear for flat feet will have a firm heel counter, a wide support base, and a firm midsole. Usually, these kinds of footwear are labeled as stability shoes or motion control shoes. Some may also come with extra arch support to prevent flat feet or the flattening of the foot arch. Surgery As with many other conditions, surgery is often considered a last resort when conservative treatment has failed to address or relieve symptoms after several weeks. Surgery will aim to correct any complications or deformity and relieve pain. Take a look at our post to learn more about treating overpronated ankles.
KneeKnee Pain When Squatting: Causes and How to Fix ItStep after step, the leg carries the body from place to place. To perform this function, the hip, knee, and ankle joints work together to transmit the weight from the back and pelvis to the floor. The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the lower limb and plays a huge role in this arrangement. Whenever the knee is affected by discomfort or pain, it immediately impacts the body's natural movement. This can be caused by different conditions and can occur in several positions of the knee. This article looks at the different causes of sore knees after squatting as well as some home remedies and what you can do to prevent it from occurring. Identifying the Position and Causes of the Knee Pain When Squatting As earlier stated, pain, pressure, or discomfort in the knees when squatting can occur in different parts of the knee and for different reasons, such as the following: Inner knee pain This can result from an injury sustained while exercising or performing sports, such as a meniscal tear while running, by trauma to the knee, or from a medical condition like knee osteoarthritis. Posterior knee pain Pain behind the knee can be caused by Baker's cyst, arthritis, infection, injury, tumor, or deep vein thrombosis. Pain at the top of the knee This may be caused due to repetitive strain, overuse, quadriceps or hamstring tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, arthritis, and knee bursitis. General knee pain may also occur due to compensatory mechanisms caused by weak hips or limited ankle mobility, poor or improperly fitted shoes, and incorrect techniques when exercising. Home Remedies for Knee Pain Caused by Squatting Proper Exercise Form Using proper form and posture when squatting will help you to minimize knee pain. To perform a proper squat, follow the steps below: Stand shoulder-width apart with your knees in line with your heels.Take a deep breath.Bend your knees, going down as far as you can without allowing your bottom to drop below your knees.Return to your standing position by pushing from your heels instead of the balls of your feet. In addition, reducing the range of motion during squatting can take some pressure off your knees and eliminate any possible pain. Research suggests that a mean hip range-of-motion (ROM) of 95.4 ±26.6° of flexion is needed to reach a maximal squat. Low-Impact Exercises Since knee pain while squatting can be due to loss of balance when carrying heavy weights, avoiding weights can help avoid pain. In their place, you can use resistance bands for strength training. Also, in place of squatting, consider low-impact aerobic exercises that do not have as much impact on the knee as squatting, such as swimming. The RICE Method Another home remedy for knee pain is the R.I.C.E method. You can relieve pain and combat inflammation with RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation: Rest Limit activities involving the knee to the barest minimum. Ice Applying an ice pack to the knee regularly can help minimize swelling and inflammation. Compression Wrapping the knee with an elastic bandage can also decrease swelling. Elevation Also ensure you keep the knee elevated at or above the level of your heart to decrease blood flow to the area and help prevent swelling. Medically Assisted Treatment of Knee Pain If the condition does not improve with home management, you can consider physical therapy. Upon examination of the knee, the physical therapist will design a holistic program to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, improve flexibility and mobility of the knee joints, and strengthen the muscles around the knee joints to prevent future episodes of pain. Custom orthotics are also helpful in managing knee pain due to squatting. For example, when you use Upstep orthotics, beyond relieving pain, they aid proper alignment of the knee in the kinetic chain to provide support and restore balance and stability. Surgical intervention can also be considered as a last resort when all conservative approaches have been exhausted with no improvement in the condition. Arthroscopy and knee replacement are two of the most common surgical interventions for knee pain. Prevention and Rehabilitation of Knee Pain It is best to never have had pain in the knee, which is why you should always take the necessary steps to achieve this, such as wearing proper footwear and ensuring you follow the correct form when exercising. However, once knee pain occurs, the goal of treatment is to relieve pain and avoid surgery since recovery from knee surgery usually takes a much longer time. Orthotics for knee pain provided by Upstep can be of great assistance as a way to both prevent and rehabilitate future knee pain.