With winter upon us, many of you will be looking forward to hitting the piste, carving up the slopes and savouring alpine life.
But for many, amidst the excitement, there will always be the niggling concern “will my knee, or knees, hold up this year”? If so, then you’re in the same boat as me, and many others.
I was prompted to write this blog after chatting with a patient who was reminiscing about his ski days, but had to give up due to knee problems. He said “I could always turn to the right but turning to the left was more effort and hurt my knee”. This struck a chord with me because I had experienced the same problem.
A bit of background history – I have scoliosis in my lower back (a twist and curve in the spine) and that this tilts my pelvis down on one side which in turn can causes rotation through the knee joint as it tries to compensate for the imbalance above. It also means I am naturally more limited turning towards the right because my spine twists to the left and this puts extra pressure through the knees.
I started getting left knee pain around 10 years ago, before I was a chiropractor. I had no history of knee trauma. I went to my doctor, who sent me to a physiotherapist who said my patella was not tracking correctly due to a weak VMO (a muscle that stabilises the patella). I went off and did some exercises and it did feel a bit better. But when I stopped the exercises, it came back. I had an MRI to ensure there was no loose cartilage floating around the knee joint, but there wasn’t. The consultant said there was mild degeneration and that it will probably worsen with time. It wasn’t a verdict I was particularly happy with but nevertheless accepted.
It was not until I was training to be a chiropractor and began to understand the biomechanics of the knee, that I could see how my lower back and pelvis were causing this.
By understanding how my body works and appreciating that joints do not work in isolation of other joints, I know that looking after my lower back is the key to minimising my knee pain. I will likely always have some degree of scoliosis, but know that with regular chiropractic adjustments to keep my back as mobile as it can be, I will minimise the strain I put through my knees. As well as skiing with more freedom and confidence, running and cycling are easier too. Plus, when getting up from squatting, I don’t have to awkwardly put all the weight through my right leg, which would ultimately have led to a compensation problem.
If reading this blog rings a bell, then get in touch via our contacts page, and we can book you in for a consultation at our clinic.
Lastly, if you are planning a winter sports break this season, have a fantastic trip!