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Knee Cap Pain and Crunching; Part 1








I feel compelled to write about knee cap pain again. Many of you have already read my earlier blog on this subject; “Do Not Do Squats.” http://drbarbarabergin.com/do-not-do-squats/.  Today I saw 6 women in my office with knee cap pain and crunching. All but one had been participating in supervised exercise routines which utilized squats, deep knee bends and lunges as the backbone of the program.

Women have a physical predisposition to having pain under and around their knee caps. It has to do with the shape of our legs. We were put together pretty well for having babies but not so much for running stairs and doing squats. And in the natural world we just didn’t have to get in and out of chairs all day, or go up and down stairs all day, or do squats deep knee bends and lunges with weights in our hands, three times a week. And remember…in the natural world we didn’t live much past 25 years.

When I see a woman with pain around her knee caps, 8 out of 10 times I can get some kind of history of excessive stair climbing or participation in an exercise class involving lunges and squats! Now trainers get very upset when I write about this and often send comments impugning my knowledge. I’m an orthopedic surgeon.  I’ve been doing this for 29 years. And I have this condition. I feel very strongly about this because I see a lot of women, and this is a big problem, especially since the exercise industry is invested in the squat, the lunge and the deep knee bend.

Trainers would really be doing their female patients a service if they took this information into consideration, and sought out versatile strengthening programs like the McLernon Method (www.mclernonmethod.com). Or better yet, try to eliminate the squat and modify the lunge.

But most importantly, just pay attention to clients while they’re doing these exercises. Watch for clients who are “cheating” or making grimaces while squatting. Turn off the music and listen for crunching knee caps. Most of the time the clients just quit, so trainers don’t hear about the problems. Women are embarrassed to complain because often the trainers will treat them like they’re just being lazy. Feel their knee caps while they’re doing the exercises. You’ll be able to feel, and sometimes even hear the crunching and grinding! That’s your sign that they shouldn’t be doing this exercise. That symptom often precedes the pain. Let clients know that they should watch for pain, crunching and grinding around their knee caps while on a program of squats, deep knee bends or lunges. And keep in mind that it doesn’t always occur while they’re doing the exercises. Sometimes it starts hurting that night, or even the next day. Sometimes it takes a month for the symptoms to show up!

Next time; get started on taking care of this problem yourself. Maybe you won’t have to come see me.

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