Squatting and Stairs with Less Knee Pain – Avoiding Knees Falling In

Posted on August 15, 2016

A common mistake we see with most knee bending activities including squatting, getting in and out of a chair, going down stairs, and getting down on the floor is allowing the knees to fall in toward each other inside of your hip and foot.

Why we see this a lot:

It’s the easy thing to do.  You can use your knee ligaments for stability and don’t have to use your muscles as much.  

Why this is a problem:

It can put a lot of side to side and rotational stress on your knee; since your knee’s primary movement is just bending and straightening forward and backward.  That said, it’s not a bad thing for our knee to go inside our hip and toes, we just want to make sure we’re aware of it and can control it better.

How to recognize it:

Observe any of your movements requiring your knees to bend.  Getting in and out of the chair is the easiest.  Are your knees staying in line with your 2nd toe, or are they inside your toes/feet? Take a look at this video for more details:

What to do about it:

As mentioned in the video, your knee muscles don’t have the best ability to control that side to side movement, so we have to go up and strengthen the hip to control it, specifically your gluteus medius muscle.  Here’s our three favorite exercises to get going on that glut med muscle:

Now that you’re improving your strength with those exercises, the important thing is that you apply it to movement!  You can do that by practicing the techniques in the first video.  You can also then progress that into our squats and lunges.

Finally, knee control isn’t all about the hip.  There are some foot and ankle motions that can contribute as well, but focusing on the hip will at least get you headed in the right direction!

We hope you find these tips and exercises helpful to control your knee better and thus move better with less pain!

We all “kneed” to move better and these tips will help!  Had to work a PT pun in there somewhere!

Keep moving!

Dr. Dane Happeny, PT, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy

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