Medial knee pain can be an ongoing problem for powerlifters when they are squatting heavier weights. Depending on the cause of medial knee pain, there may be exercises to help reduce pain or eliminate issues with your form that can contribute to the problem.
1. Pay Attention To Form
You might be able to determine the underlying cause of medial knee pain if you pay attention to your form while you are squatting. When rising from the squatting position, your knees might cave inward to help you return to the standing position. This knee valgus is a common cause of medial knee pain. In some cases, you might have issues with knee valgus even when you are not squatting heavier weights, which is more obvious if you observe yourself walking in front of a mirror. Although congenital issues with knee valgus cannot be corrected with physical therapy, breakdowns in your form can.
2. Do More Accessory Work
Accessory exercises can help you reduce muscle weakness that can contribute to medial knee pain and knee valgus. Your physical therapist can give you a list of exercises to help strengthen your leg muscles and improve any other issues that might contribute to pain. For example, using a hip circle or physical therapy bands above your knees can help strengthen the hip abductors.
While wearing the bands, you can sit down and spread your legs apart and slowly bring them back together. Other banded exercises you can perform are doing squats with just your body weight. As you squat down, your goal is to resist the pull of the bands around your legs. When these exercises become easy, you can switch to a band with a higher resistance level.
3. Practice A Different Stance
If there is a certain amount of weight that triggers knee valgus, you might also want to try changing your stance. Some people squat with a wider or narrower stance and much of this is based on hip mobility. Try changing your stance to see if it makes a difference in your ability to maintain good form throughout the movement, especially at heavier weights.
You might notice you are less likely to experience knee valgus and can maintain your form if you squat with a slightly narrower stance. Of course, any change in your usual form can make it harder to squat the same amount of weight, which can require significant practice to adjust.
Addressing medial knee pain and any valgus issues are important to avoid significant damage to your knees. Getting assistance from a medical office like Advanced Physical Therapy can help you reduce pain and safely return to your sport.