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How-to guide to fixing knee pain in teenagers


In our previous post, I wrote about what knee pain often is in teenagers and why it can be such a challenging problem to fix. Today, I'm writing about my personal solution to curing people who have the often blanket-termed condition know as "Patella-Femoral Pain Syndrome" or "Knee tracking pain". 

I must stress, this program is for those who fit the catagory of Patella-Femoral pain. Check out our previous post here which explains the signs and symptoms of this condition. You should not perform these exercises without a proper diagnosis from a medical professional. 

Exercise 1: The proper wall squat

This requires you to use a wall at home and adopt a squatting posture as shown below. Your feet must be 20cm+ from the wall and your back making good contact to the wall. 

We then 'weight-shift' our weight to the affected knee so that 60% of our weight is held in this knee, and 40% of our weight is carried by the 'good' knee. Keep your body upright and resist the urge to lean. See the image below.

Exercise Protocol

This exercise guide is useful for those who have had knee pain for 2 months or more. Pain that has been present for less time may respond a little quicker and as such the protocol can be altered to suite. 

Week 1: Hold your weight-shifted squat for 15 seconds. You should feel your knee shake a little, and it should feel weak (compared to the other). Complete 8 sets of 15 second holds daily to the affected knee (5 days per week minimum)

Week 2: Progress this same exercise to 30 second holds. Complete 6 sets of 30 second holds daily. (5 days per week minimim)

Week 3: Continue to perform there exercise as per week 2. This time we add a stretch as shown above once we complete out wall exercises. This stretch should be felt along the quadriceps muscle down to the knee. It will help stretch the structures of the knee joint. We hold this stretch for 10 seconds (x2 reps).  

Week 4: Progress exercise to 45 second holds. Complete 6 sets. Perform knee stretch after the wall squat exercises are completed. 

Week 5-6: Progress exercise to 60 second holds. Stretching is optional at this point as we are mostly strong in our knee muscles and simple tasks like running and walking up stairs should be much easier. 

What about braces?? That's a great question. I often recommend a patella stabiliser brace which essentially is any knee brace which has a hole over the knee cap. This can be useful for teenagers who are walking a lot in general around school and suffer from general daily pain. 

So there we have it! If this program is followed as outlined there should be a significant reduction in knee pain and a return to general daily activities. We can now commence sporting activities or personal fitness activities. If pain is still experienced after this regime then again medical attention should be sought. Remember, pain free teenagers are happier teenagers!! 

Written by:

Mark Antonello

Physiotherapist 

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