The knee joint is a type of hinge joint that allows the knee to bend forwards and backwards. For most athletic activities the knee is a critical region as it must act to both support the weight of the body, as well as flex and extend to generate the propulsive forces needed to move the body. To help with these tasks there is a complex set of muscles that surround the knee. It is essential that these muscles possess adequate strength, flexibility, and coordination as we rely on them to protect and stabilize the knee during virtually every athletic activity.
An athletic movement requires explosive muscle contractions at the knee, but also require finely tuned muscle balance and coordination to control the knee and prevent excessive strain during these movements. However, maintaining proper function at the knee in itself is not enough. In fact for the knee to stay injury free, proper function is needed at the other regions of the leg and trunk as well. A knee injury can also be linked to problems at the adjacent joints, such as the foot, hip, and pelvis. This is because the knee is directly connected to these structures through the tibia and femur, as well as through the surrounding muscles. For this reason it is critical that the entire kinetic chain is evaluated to ensure all areas are functioning properly, not just the area of pain. Failure to identify and correct these compensations will not only prolong the injury process, but will also lead to injury reoccurring over and over again. Essentially a repetitive injury cycle is set-up causing continued soft tissue adhesions and progressive movement dysfunction. As the cycle progresses the ability of the muscles to contract properly is affected and the control and stability of the knee becomes compromised. At this point it is not uncommon for a more severe pain to occur.