Ask an Exercise Physiologist: sore knees, hips and necks | HerCanberra

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Ask an Exercise Physiologist: sore knees, hips and necks

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Ask an EP is here to help with all your health and wellness questions and challenges—lifestyle, wellness, pain and health.

Do you have a burning health and wellness question? Now is your chance.

Every week we will pick a bunch of questions, and help you solve your burning query. If we share our problems, we are more likely to solve them.

Let’s get started

“My knees get sore whenever I use them to do anything, kicking in the pool, walking up stairs, pilates, riding a bike etc. I try to space my workouts a few days apart through the week, and wear good shoes. Is there anything else I can do?”

– Emily, 22

Hi Emily, how frustrating for you and your active lifestyle!

Have you had a professional assess your walking gait and functional strength? That’s your first port of call.

Get them to assess not only your foot alignment but also your hamstring and quad strength (comparing left to right and which muscle group is weakest). Often you find weakness and instabilities on the opposite side of where the pain is coming from. If you’re having pain on both sides, you may find even weaknesses in both muscle groups.

I’d also recommend assessing your glute and lumbar spine strength. Your knee joints are being loaded too much, and we need to find where the weakness is originating.

Have you had further investigations through your GP to cancel out any nasties?

In the meantime, if you’re a mad swimmer, use a pool buoy between your legs or try some deep water running to keep up your strength.

If walking flat doesn’t hurt, then that’s also a great option in the interim; to gradually build strength.

“My right hip needs a hip replacement. I’ve lost 12 kgs this year, however, I have around 30kgs to go before the surgeon will operate. What would you suggest in the meantime”?

Congratulations on the 12kgs so far. Make sure you give yourself a pat on the back.

It’s great to have a goal and know where you want to be, however, it’s also important to celebrate your little successes along the way. Having this type of mindset will keep you intrinsically motivated for a long-term positive outcome.

Do you have a realistic healthy nutrition plan in place to lose the 30kg? I’d suggest contacting a dietician or nutritionist to manage your plan. For an entire week, write down everything you eat, and at what time you eat it, before your appointment (so they have a guide to work with!)

If you struggle to exercise due to pain, have you tried deep water running/walking in your local pool, a swimming or specific home strengthening program?

There are plenty of exercises for you to do until your surgeon can operate, focusing on lumbar spine strength, quad and hamstring strength, core and general strength and conditioning. The fitter you are leading into the surgery, the better the outcome.

At Capital Hydrotherapy we have specific hip and pelvic control classes, and Hydrolates classes (Aquatic Pilates)—here’s our new timetable.

“I have a sore neck and shoulder from office work, what should I do to strengthen my back and shoulders?’

Is the neck and shoulder pain new? Or due to your COVID at-home office set up? Maybe you need a desk assessment? We need to find the cause of the postural pain.

Do you take many posture breaks? In our fast-paced working world, we get so caught up in the “now”, we forget to think about how we should sit and how we should stand.

Knowledge is power. If we understand proper posture and alignment, we’re one step closer to fixing a whole range of potential problems.

Firstly, do you know how to sit properly?

Try this:

  • Sit up, with your spine tall and shoulders back and down. Once you are as tall as possible, release by 10%. This is more sustainable for a longer period of time.
  • Distribute your weight evenly into both sit bones.
  • Bend your knees at 90 degrees, or slightly higher than your hips.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor, with weight distributed evenly.

Here’s a mini-program to help address your posture (a combination of strength, mobility and stability):

1) Dynamic hip flexor trunk rotation stretch
2) Thread the needle
3) Pretzel stretch
4) Bird dog
5) Overhead lateral stretch

You can print the PDF here, and I’ve made a little two-minute IGTV clip for you, which is dropping into Instagram later today.

Great questions. I’ll answer more next week!

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