In light of the World Cup Final, I thought is would be a great time to talk about knee health. Why? Because I have managed to injure my knees a total of seven times while playing soccer between seventh grade and my freshmen year in college. Each time I
injured myself it was the same old story: see my orthopedic doctor → drain the fluids off of my knee → brace and crutches for several weeks → physical therapy. At one point surgery was recommended, but I declined because it would interfere with my indoor soccer season.
So what happened after my freshmen year in college that allowed my knees to stop getting injured while playing soccer? Sadly, I stopped playing the sport I loved.
Throughout college and the next couple of years, I would occasionally feel my knees go out slightly while doing mundane tasks like walking down stairs, turning to quickly, etc. At one point, on a beach vacation, a wave hit me causing a dislocation of my kneecap.
The week following this beach injury, I was back at naturopathic medical school, limping down the hall. A chiropractor standing at the other end of the hall asked me why I didn’t wear arch supports. I was slightly bewildered by the question for two reasons:
- Upon observation of my feet, it was quite clear that I had arches.
- What did arch supports have to do with my current limp?
He then showed me how when I walked my arch would almost completely collapse. This was causing my knees to get stressed medially and bend towards my midline, weakening my knees, and setting me up for repeated injury. That day he fitted me for a custom set of orthotics, or arch supports.
When they arrived and I put them in my shoes, I initially hated them. They made it feel strange to walk for the first couple of days. But this strangeness was actually incredibly healthy for my knees. The pressure of my step that I always felt on the medial side of my knees moved more laterally, to the middle of my knee. Apparently this is where it should have always been, but I never knew that.
I now wear arch supports in my shoes all the time. I even buy flip-flops in the summer that have extra arch support. Since I’ve started this doing, I’ve been six years without an injury.
Before my children play any sports, I’m taking them to one of the chiropractors in our office to have their feet and structural alignment assessed. Hopefully they don’t have collapsing arches, but if they do, I now know that we can help reduce their risk of joint issues when they’re in their mid-30’s and beyond.
Do you have knee or hip problems? Have you ever had your arches assessed? Why not schedule an appointment to see if your underlining issue is with your feet? I know I am glad that I finally saw a chiropractor.
But what if you’re in my boat now? You’ve had injuries and you can predict rain, wake up family members as you walk up stairs or even gross yourself out if you put your hand on your knees as you bend them? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story where we discuss how to make life more tolerable once you have an injury.