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If your knees hurt, look down

(NC) Dull, aching knees are the bane of many people, preventing them from doing the activities they enjoy. When knee pain strikes, we quickly look for a cause and a cure, but experts say we may be looking in the wrong place.

“People naturally assume when their knees hurt the cause of the problem is within the knee,” says Alison Smith, a Canadian Certified Pedorthist and president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. “Although there are many different causes for knee pain, one of the most common causes is actually what people least expect – their feet.”

Smith says the way a person walks can have a huge impact on the health of their knees. If your feet roll inwards too far or tip outwards, it will cause the lower leg to move in such a way that it places extra pressure on the knee each time you take a step. If the ankle does not have as much range of motion as it should, it can have an effect on the knees as well.

Differing leg lengths, a common problem affecting many Canadians, can also lead to knee pain as the discrepancy can create stress on the knee joints.

But biomechanical problems aren't the only cause of foot-related knee pain. Ill-fitting, unsupportive shoes can cause pain in the knees, as well as foot, back, and hip pain, particularly if they are worn repeatedly or for strenuous activity.

If you are suffering from pain behind, below, or on the sides of the kneecap, book an appointment with your family doctor and ask if a referral to a Canadian Certified Pedorthist will help. Pedorthists will assess the way you walk and advise if a foot orthotic, or different footwear will help.

More information on pedorthists can be found at www.pedorthic.ca.

(Sidebar)

Knee Pain Risks

Canadian Certified Pedorthists point out the main causes of knee pain:

• Foot conditions

• Being overweight

• Having tight or weak muscles

• Participating in activities that pound the knees such as jumping, running, downhill skiing

• Arthritis

• Injury

• Work-related repetitive stresses to the joints

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