Causes and Effects of Common Knee Pain

November 2, 2012 | John Elder

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

Medical conditions linked to activities, like Golfer's Elbow, Tennis Elbow and Runner's Knee, are intriguing. The human body is designed to perform an abundance of motions and movements, so blaming an activity for elbow or knee pain creates a convenient scapegoat for not doing what our bodies were meant to do.

Have you ever approached the starting line of a 5K race or a marathon and been overcome with fear because you experienced knee pain on your last few training runs. The discomfort wasn't really bad, but you got it checked out. The diagnosis: Runner's Knee.

You were probably told that you increased your mileage too quickly, ran too much every week, or simply need new shoes. But are those things really responsible? I'm pretty sure both knees ran the same number of miles, increased their mileage at the same time, and that both feet wore the same shoes.

Debunking the Myths

Body Diagram

When clients come in with "Runner's Knee," I enjoy getting them to think outside of the box about their condition. When they do so, they often realize that the source of their pain is not where it hurts. Usually the root cause of the pain is somewhere else in the body. Remember the old song about the knee bone being connected to the thigh bone? There's actually a lot of truth there.

The body follows a 90-degree rule. A side view should show a vertical line running through the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle, as in the illustration. A front or back view should show horizontal lines running through the middle of the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Essentially all the joints line up on the grid, and if there is any deviation, chronic pain is either present or right around the corner. Once the structural integrity of the body is compromised, you are operating on borrowed time.

So the reason your knee hurts is actually because its structural integrity has been compromised, and it's doing a job it was not designed to do. It has less to do with how far you're running, how often you run or what shoes you wear.

Action Plan

So what's the secret to eliminating pain in the knee (and incidentally the low back, neck, hip and plantar fasciitis)? Restoring your body to its original design blueprint. The following exercises balance the body, restore full range of motion in the load joints and eliminate pain. However, they can achieve these results only if you perform the exercises. That's the key: to fix your condition, you have to work at it.

The following exercises need to be done daily to realign the body and keep it balanced. At minimum, they should be completed prior to an activity—running, golf, lifting weights, kickboxing class, etc.

Static Back

Sets/Time: 1x5 minutes

To Perform:

  • Lie on back with legs up on a chair or couch
  • Position arms at 45-degree angle with palms up
  • Try to relax your upper back
  • Notice if your low back is evenly flat, from left to right
  • Remain in this position for the entire five minutes

Hip Crossover Stretch

Sets/Time: 1x1 minute  each side

To Perform:

  • Lie on back with both knees bent and feet flat on floor pointed straight ahead
  • Place arms out to side at shoulder level
  • Cross right ankle over left knee and rotate ankle/knee junction to left, resting foot on floor
  • Look in opposite direction and relax shoulders
  • Press right knee away from body with muscles of right hip
  • Repeat on opposite side

Pelvic Tilt

Sets/Reps: 1x10

To Perform:

  • Lie on back with knees bent and hips, knees and feet aligned
  • Roll hips backward to flatten back to floor, then roll hips forward to arch low back
  • Remember to relax upper back
  • Repeat for specified reps

Standing Arm Circles

Sets/Reps: 1x40 each direction

To Perform:

  • Stand with feet pointed straight ahead
  • Close fingertips into pads of hands and point thumbs straight out; this hand position, called "golfer's grip," is important to do the exercise correctly
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together and bring arms out to sides at shoulder level
  • With palms facing down, circle up and forward for specified reps
  • With palms facing up, circle down and back for specified reps
  • Remember to keep feet straight and shoulder blades squeezed together

Contact the Egoscue Nashville clinic via email at or by phone at 615.771.8556 with any questions you may have.

Must See
Colin Kaepernick Explains His Ridiculous Socks
Views: 27,948,089
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 9,462,530
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 28,592,208

Featured Videos

Abby Wambach's Med Ball Core Workout Views: 187,099
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 12,178
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 5: Fundamentals Training Views: 227,291
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,852
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,390
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,865,925
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,784
Johny Hendricks Workout Overview
Views: 822,554

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

How to Train With Running Blisters

Megan Rapinoe

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears