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Planning Retirement Online

Home Exercise and Rehab

April 2012  


Gina John Gina John is a Pilates Practitioner and Registered Osteopath who has spent many years offering help and advice, especially to the over 50 age group.

She is founder of The Osprey Clinic in the St. Johns Wood area of London and now specialises in Home Exercise and Rehabilitation Programmes. For further advice on exercising safely, and a selection of exercise films for general fitness and medical conditions, visit the website:


This month Gina looks at knee pain.

Q. I suffer with chronic knee pain which is sometimes debilitating. Scans have not shown any joint problem and my GP said it must be to do with the muscles. So, is there anything I can do other than take painkillers?

A. One of the most common painful knee complaints is Patella Maltracking. This arises from an imbalance in the muscles which help us to bend and extend the knee.

This condition commonly affects middle-aged women, but anyone who pronates excessively (inward rolling of the feet and ankles) or who has gained weight significantly, or has weak leg muscles, may develop the condition. Symptoms are usually first noticed during weight-bearing activities, particularly going up or downstairs. If left untreated, these symptoms develop into a debilitating inflammatory condition.

The knee cap (patella) should lie in a central position over the joint, but a muscle imbalance in the area or poor alignment of the knee joint, i.e. after surgery or injury, causes the patella to deviate laterally. Tight low back, buttock and hip muscles, may also contribute to the problem with the knee. If the muscle balance is not improved, eventually friction arises under the knee cap itself during movement, causing pain and inflammation.

It is important to stop activities which bring on symptoms and seek medical advice and treatment. Anti-inflammatory treatment such as ultrasound, cold therapy or medication may be prescribed to reduce the acute symptoms. An exercise programme, which strengthens and rebalances the muscles on the front and inner thigh as well as the knee area, and stretches the calf and hamstrings at the back of the leg will help to resolve the condition.

Additional exercises to strengthen the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles will improve and maintain stability for the body as a whole and enable the knee to cope better with weight-bearing activities.

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