Knee valgus is a problem in which the knees bend inward, also known as “knock knees.” It’s a typical misalignment characterized by the knee bending inward. This problem occurs most frequently in young children, although it may last into adulthood in some situations. A variety of factors can cause knee valgus. Some are structural changes, such as rheumatoid arthritis or a knee joint, femur, or tibia deformity. Knee valgus due to these anomalies is unavoidable and can’t be repaired, but there are several treatment choices accessible that may assist relieve the discomfort caused by it.
Another frequent cause of knee valgus that may be prevented and healed – muscular imbalances caused by bad posture – is our main concern. In this post, you’ll discover what knee valgus is, where it originates, and how to correct knee valgus due to bad posture.
What is Knee Valgus?
Knee valgus happens when the femur rotates inward, whether owing to structural change or muscular and ligamentous deficiency. When both knees are bent, they point towards one another rather than forward while standing. Someone with knee valgus usually has their femurs pointed inwards, and their hips rotate internally. The knees are rotated inwards as a result of these two elements coming together. Furthermore, flat feet or collapsed arches are frequently seen in patients with this condition. Some people may compensate for knock knees by externally rotating their tibia (shins).
Symptoms of Knee Valgus
The most apparent sign of knee valgus is a knock-kneed appearance on the legs. Most people with moderate valgus will not feel any discomfort or pain. Stand with your legs together to look for a valgus misalignment and see if your knees and ankles touch. You have knee valgus if your knees are touching, but there is a space of at least 2 inches between your ankles.
Valgus may develop if left unchecked, causing symptoms such as:
- An altered gait
- Difficulty balancing
- Knee pain
- Reduced range of motion
- Foot, ankle, and hip pain
- Low back pain
There aren’t many negative effects associated with having a light case of knee valgus, but if you have knee valgus, you’ll want to correct it rather than ignoring it. Severe and long-term cases of knee valgus can induce meniscus tears, joint damage, and osteoarthritis if left untreated. Furthermore, correcting knee valgus will help you move more freely and efficiently and improve your overall posture.
Possible causes of Knee Valgus
In this part, we’ll look at the various causes of Knee Valgus. It has a variety of causes. Bone malformations and sequelae such as Osteoarthritis, Rickets, and Scurvy can all contribute to knee valgus. It has also been discovered that genetics may play a role in some individuals developing it early and others late in life. Knee valgus is a condition that affects many children, with more than 20 percent of infants under the age of three having a gap of at least 0.4 inches between their ankles.
However, in most situations, the problem goes away as the body matures. According to studies, by the age of seven, only one percent of children have a gap in their knees. Knee valgus may persist into adolescence or manifest in adulthood in some individuals. Because many of these conditions are uncommon, they usually occur as a consequence of an underlying sickness or condition, such as Blount’s disease. Inadequate posture is another typical reason for knee valgus. This is what we’ll go over in greater detail in the following section.
How can Poor Posture induce Knee Valgus?
To comprehend how your bad posture causes knee valgus, it’s crucial to understand how the muscles of the hips and legs collaborate to keep the knee properly positioned. The knee is held in place by a complex network of muscles that allows for a full range of motion as well as supports the knee. The hip abductors, external rotators, quadriceps, and hamstrings are all examples of these muscles. Your weight is dispersed evenly throughout a load-bearing axis that extends down through the hip, knee, and ankle when your knee is positioned correctly.
The knee may shift out of place when knee-stabilizing muscles become weak due to injury or overuse. Weak hip external rotates, pelvic muscles, and hip abductors cause the femur to rotate inwards, producing a knock-kneed appearance in the knee valgus. It’s crucial to remember that some degree of varus (or “bow legs”) or valgus (or “knock knees”) is standard, and it won’t produce any noticeable symptoms or loss of movement.
Muscular imbalances and postural dysfunctions can cause Knee Valgus
Knee valgus is frequently caused by various factors, including structural abnormalities in the body.
Adductors are the thigh/groin muscles running down the leg’s inner aspect. If they’re too tight, the thighs will be pushed inwards, and the hip will rotate internally. The knock-knee effect is the result of this.
The abductors are the muscles that assist in pulling the legs away from the body’s midline. The abductors are likely to be weak, while the adductors are overly active in a person suffering from this issue. The inward pull is more than the outward pull since the abductors are too weak. Inward pointing knees are due to a lack of balance between the two muscle groups.
When your feet are flat, or your arches have collapsed, the knee is deviated and pointed inwards.
Naturally Wide Hips
People who have wider hips are more likely to develop this condition over time, whether this is a cause or not. Wider hips are more likely to internally rotate, causing the knees to cave inwards. This is one of the many reasons women seem more prone to knee valgus than men.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
The hips can internally rotate if the front of your pelvis is tilted downwards in an anterior pelvic tilt, forcing the knees to point inwards. The process of locating the source of knee valgus is not simple. The source of the problem may be found at either end since the knee is in the center of the hip and ankle joint. A flat foot is typical among people with knee valgus. Was it the flat feet that developed the knee valgus, or were it the inwardly rotated hip that generated the knee to collapse inwards, causing the flat feet?
If you can’t address the actual cause, it might be more difficult to figure out the ideal technique to treat knee valgus. The good thing is that if knee valgus develops as a result of bad posture, it can be reversed if it is addressed promptly. We’ll look at some of the treatment choices for treating knee valgus in the following section.
How to Correct Knee Valgus
More aggressive therapy may be required for severe cases of knee valgus to alleviate discomfort and prevent the condition from getting worse. A doctor may advise you to try one of the following methods depending on the source of knee valgus:
Knee valgus can be caused by a variety of factors, including underlying illnesses such as rickets (calcium and vitamin D deficiency). In certain situations, treating the underlying condition with medicine may assist in relieving the knee’s malalignment. Medication may be used in conjunction with an individualized exercise regimen to treat knock knees to reduce pain.
Knee valgus correction can be achieved by using guided growth, in which a plate is inserted into the knee to restore the joint’s alignment, or osteotomy, in which the femur is realigned to correct the load-bearing axis angle. In rare situations, a total knee replacement will be suggested.
Most doctors and physiotherapists will recommend some basic exercises to strengthen weak hip external rotators and hip abductors in the event that knee valgus is not due to a structural abnormality or an underlying disease. Stretching routines may be advised to help the hips return to their normal range of motion and loosen up tight muscles. The following stretches and activities are designed to realign the knee so that it can bear weight in an efficient way and alleviate pressure on the knee, hip, and ankle joints. In the next section, we’ll look at specific workouts you may try.
Corrective Exercises to fix Knee Valgus
In this area, we’ll look at some exercises and posture concerns to address and think about while correcting your knee valgus. However, before attempting any type of treatment at home, you must consult with your doctor to ensure there are no underlying factors causing your knee valgus.
1. Stretch & Release Tight Adductors
The adductors are a set of muscles that run along the length of the inner thigh and groin region, and if these muscles are tense, they will cause the knees to bow inwards. Because of this, individuals with knee valgus may profit from beginning a routine of releasing and stretching these muscles on a regular basis. Trigger point therapy is a less frequently used treatment for knee valgus.
Trigger point therapy is a way to treat muscular knots that are found deep in soft tissues throughout the body, which helps to enhance circulation and reduce inflammation while also relieving pain and restoring symmetry to the muscles, ligaments, and joints that support the knee.
A myofascial release is a type of manual therapy that a massage therapist generally performs. Still, several gadgets on the market can assist you in performing myofascial release at home – including foam rollers. You’ll want to work on your adductors with both myofascial release and stretching to make them longer.
To release the adductors, a large myofascial release tool will be required for myofascial release. Unless you can elevate it somehow, a normal massage ball is likely to be too tiny. A foam roller may be used, as seen in the video above. Given the chronic adductor tightness, you may need to perform myofascial release several times.
After releasing the adductors, the next significant step is to stretch them on a regular basis. There are numerous ways to stretch the adductors, but we’ve discovered that standing adductor stretches are the most effective since you may always shuffle until you feel the desired stretch. You can help your thigh area return to normal by starting a regular adductor stretching program.
2. Strengthen Weak Abductors
This is not the same muscle group like the one we discussed earlier. Not the Adductors, but the Abductors are meant here. The abductor’s muscles are used to draw your leg away from the body’s midline and to the side. The tight adductors can pull the leg when these muscles are underdeveloped. We can construct a better equilibrium on both sides of the legs by beginning to strengthen them.
Tensor fascia lata (TFL), glute medius, and glute maximus make up most abductors. You’ll want to make sure these muscles are functioning correctly, particularly the gluteus medius, which is frequently underutilized in individuals. To learn more about building up your glute medius, go here for information on a weak glute medius.
Aside from those articles, here are some strengthening exercises you may do to help your abductors grow.
Side-Lying Leg Raises
This is a simple exercise to do.
- Lie on your side with the leg abducted away from your body and then brought back down.
- Repeat the motion on both legs 30 times.
- Remember to keep the toes pointed down while exercising the abductor’s muscles.
Side Planks with Leg Raise
The top leg is raised on side planks, which are a fantastic strengthening exercise. This movement is difficult if your abductors are weak, in which case a modified version shown below might be preferable.
If you have this condition, you’ll want to concentrate on performing squats with good form. If you wrap bands around your knees, they will force you to push your legs against them, which will work the abductors.
If none of those abduction workouts interest you, there are 19 more to consider. Choose the ones that suit you by watching the video above.
You might benefit from our page dedicated to external hip rotators for additional activities.
3. Fix Flat Feet or Collapsed Arches
A physician may prescribe orthotics or insoles for flat feet to correct your gait and relieve stress on the knee, hip, and ankle joints since knee valgus are usually linked with flattened arches. You may also want to consider doing exercises that target the arch of your feet to strengthen them.
For more information on how to treat flat feet, see our write-up on how to cure flat feet.
4. Check for an Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Knee valgus can develop as a result of an anterior pelvic tilt. An anterior pelvic tilt is one in which the front of your pelvis slopes downwards and the rear slope upwards. When the pelvis is held in this way, the femurs inside rotate, forcing the knees to turn inwards. The knock knees are a result of this. It’s critical to determine whether or not you have an anterior pelvic tilt and work on stabilizing your pelvis if you want to enhance your chances of fixing a knee valgus.
Examine our pages on symptoms, testing for it, and how to correct them.
How to avoid Knee Valgus in the future
Knee valgus that is developed by a structural malformation is generally unavoidable. If your knee valgus is the result of bad posture, there are a few simple lifestyle adjustments you may make to prevent it from getting worse.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity has been linked to severe knee valgus in numerous studies. Excess weight puts additional stress on the legs and knees, which can aggravate knock knees.
Avoid Hyperextending Your Knees
When standing and walking, focus on maintaining some mobility in the knees. Hyperextension of the knee can harm the medial collateral ligament (MCL), which keeps the knee from collapsing inward, and the anterior crucial ligament (ACL), which stabilizes the knee joint during rotation.
Practice Good Posture When Sitting
Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor when sitting in a chair—putting your knees together and your feet apart while sitting is not a good idea.
Practice Good Form
If you have this condition and are already exercising, you should be more conscious of your form and especially where your knees are in relation to their proper position. Don’t let your knees cave in when you’re in a squat; instead, keep them over the toes. Keep your knee well above the ankle in a single leg lunge, and don’t let them collapse inwards. Simply performing basic things like these will begin to exercise the muscles that aren’t responsive, and your knee alignment may improve over time.
Repairing Knee Valgus is a difficult task, but form counts
These workouts are a fantastic place to begin and may even be done alone. Remember what you’re doing with your knees while going about your day. Look to fix the muscle imbalances from your hips all the way down to your knees since knee valgus isn’t just a problem with your legs. Moderate cases of knee valgus can be prevented from getting worse and contributing to the development of more serious diseases like joint pain and osteoarthritis if discovered early.
Remember, the information provided in this article is not meant to take the place of medical advice. If you have knee valgus with swelling or knee-buckling, it’s possible that you have a more serious problem that is causing your knock knees. Consult with your physician about the possible reasons and treatment choices for your knee valgus if you’re considering fixing knock knees.