Gary's new website

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Please help! I have injured my knee!

"Hi Gary Me again! My old knee injury (sprained or damage to the anterior cruciate ligament & medial collateral ligament) appears to have flared up so was wondering if you could recommend anything to help with the inflammation? and whether you think i should go back to physio?

It is pretty minor compared to what i experienced years ago & was at its worst on Monday but has calmed down a bit thanks to wearing a stocking all day/night. The inside of my knee seems a little swollen & it feels tight at the back to the point that it is hard to completely straighten or kneel. I could still run quite happily on Tuesday but after realising my knee was a bit swollen have decided to stop until its back to normal. In terms of the cause I am not sure as have not had a sprain as such. However, my knee did start to 'click' a lot more (& is clicking quite a bit now) when I started to do single leg extensions where my leg/knee is at a 90degree (sitting on a gym machine) & I lift a 5kg weight with toe slightly pointed out.

This exercise is part of the program that my trainer at the gym (Chek Practitioner with Diplomas in Rehabilitation & in Sports Medicine from Otago Uni) designed & apparently works to strengthen the inside of my knee.
She also just started me on a new exercise with the swiss ball where my torso is on the ground but lifted up in the 'bridging' position & my calves are on the swiss ball & i have to lift one leg up at a time & hold it for 5 seconds so as to apparently strengthen my core, butt & hamstring. i have found this exercise really hard & pretty much strain the balancing leg so i can keep the lifted leg up in the air.

The trainer is convinced
that these exercises could not have caused my knee to flare up unless i was incorrect in my technique & suggested it might be a hamstring insertion (whatever that is!)& thought i should try antiflam cream & seeing a physio in a few days if it had not self-corrected. but as she has overrided my old physio exercises & your advice to do 1/4 squats (she got me doing full squats with minimal weight)

I'm now confused as don't know if i can trust that she knows what she's talking about or who i should ask....except you! all i know is that my knee has been fine for the past 5 years & now its not!

Pretty gutted as i ran 9k for the first time in 5 1/2 years last week! any suggestions would be greatly appreciated."
Gary Moller comments:
"R", The swelling is telling you that your knee has been injured somehow and the swelling is your body's way of restricting movement.

Knowing your history of knee injury, it is possible that the damage to your knee ligaments previously and possibly to the knee cartilage makes the joint vulnerable to further damage.

It is possible that some of the exercises that you describe doing could have irritated the knee joint.

Your anterior cruciate prevents forwardsliding of the tibia on the femur, especially when the large quadriceps contract. The medial ligament prevents the knee from buckling inwards. Between all of them, the ligaments hold the knee joint snug and secure. The articular cartilages form a shock absorbing dish between the bones of the knee joint (tibia and the femur). It is possible that you damaged one or two of these cartilages when you sprained your ligaments.

When you are doing any kind of strengthening exercises using the big thigh muscles you should be weight bearing. This is because the knee bones are held firmly in place in the dished cartilages. If you do leg exercises such as leg extensions on a leg extension weight machine, the lower leg will be hanging free, gapping the joint and throwing stress on already damaged or stretched ligaments. The joint cartilage is vulnerable to further damage as the joint is gapped and twisted.

I would be very careful of the Swiss Ball bridging exercise that you describe because the knee could gap and twist. If you want to work the hamstring and butt, do standing dead-lifts with a barbell or dumbells; but make sure you get expert instruction in safe technique, lest you do your back in!

Stick to weight-bearing exercises such as squats and never go beyond right angle knee bends when under pressure. Deep knee bends may strain the ligaments and pinch the cartilages. The best machine in the gym for you for strengthening the quads is the incline leg press. Avoid the hack squat, including wall squats with a Swiss Ball behind your back. These throw excess strain on the front portions of the knee, including the undersides of the kneecaps. You don't need this.

Always get professional instruction by a weights expert and review your technique regularly.

Ice may help with the swelling but I am not a fan of it. Elevation, plus rhythmic exercise is best. Massage the knee, thigh and calf.

Exercise in warm water to manage swelling and to maintain strength, endurance and flexibility.

Take a glucosamine and chondroitin formulation and MSM and take generous doses for as long as there is pain and swelling. Use these in preference to pain killers and anti-inflammatories. Add 2,000mg of vitamin C per day. Copious amounts of fish and flax oil and especially Evening Primrose Oil have natural anti inflammatory qualities while not compromising healing. These natural supplements will assist healing. Continue normal doses for at least three months after the knee has settled.

Contact me if the knee does not settle significantly by next week.


Sloan said...

Hi.I have multiple issues with the knee and hip.IN 2005 I had mri's done and found torn left labrum of hip and knee plica.Was told that knee issues would subside after hip arthroscopy.After surgery, I developed a strain right hip, worse pain in knee(bakers cyst) and SI joint issues with herniation of the L4 and L5. I have been in and out of Pt. After addressing a fallen arch in left foot, a lot of the pain symptoms went away. After joining the Fitness Fixer blog, I became more aware of posture and gait. I am now seeing a chiro for the SI joint issues and began getting massage theraphy which is slowly helping.. But every time I progress with the back issues, the left knee would act up.Now I can not go dancing. This is quite disheartening because that is a new symptom. I went to an orthopedic that said my medial quad muscles are weak and that I have a high baha. He gave me exercises to do and told me that the cyst will go away. The problem is I have been doing these exercises before. The massage guy said that my issues mimick a miniscus tear. A lot of popping and cracking. The calf and shin muscles hurt to the touch right under the medial part of the knee and burns after any thing I do now. I am a personal trainer and am so confused. I can do a light jog and some cardio equipment and be O.K. I began to do pool work and recumbant bike and the knee hurts so much after. Should I continue? When the knee is real chronic, I can not straighten out the knee because of the sharp pain on the outside of knee. Also my knee cap seems to be mishappen. No one seems to address that, and I feel that it might be part of the problem. This has been going on for the last three and three quarter years and it has worn me thin. I feel as if though I have back slided even with all my efforts.My knee started first after a skiing twisting accident andright after with a hamstring pull which led to the hip and now back. Please help. Sloan

Gary Moller said...

You are having a hard time of it right now aren't you! I am sure that I can help.

Can you please email me: gary at

Can you please send digital photos of your legs from all angles and mark with a marker pen the exact areas that hurt you the most.

Can you also tell me what you have eaten and drunk over the last 24 hours. Tell me about any medicines and supplements being taken.

Give me your age, height and weight and tell me more about your exercise and health history. Where are you based?

I would like you to complete the assessment here as well:

Depending on time taken with this inquiry, I may ask for a small donation for my time; but let's not worry about that for now.