First watch this video if you get a chance! It neatly lays out why you’ve got chronic pain.
Common Reasons Why You Have Chronic Injuries & Pain
Why is my bloody knee/back/neck always hurting!?
Why am I always hurting my knees when I run!?
Why do I get carpal tunnel only in one wrist when I use the computer, but not the other!?
I’ve experienced virtually every type of musculo-skeletal pain in my short life. Back pain. Neck pain. Knee pain. Shoulder pain. Elbow pain. Ankle pain. Pain pain pain. Something always hurting.
Usually I would get pain in three main areas:
- Back Pain (& Neck Pain)
- Knee Pain (& Hip pain)
- Shoulder Pain (& Elbows/Wrists)
After suffering from so much chronic pain, it got me wondering – how does all this stuff start anyway? How could I do an exercise that only caused one side of my body to hurt, but not the other – even though I was doing the exact same thing?
As it turns out, there are three really common postural issues that frequently happen in modern people.
Today we’re just going to talk about one that affects the ankles, knees, and lower back, called pronation distortion syndrome.
Why Your Lower Body Pain And Injuries Aren’t Going Away
Pronation distortion syndrome is basically due to the weakening of certain muscle groups, and the tightening of others.
What happens is that the knees and ankles end up not evenly holding your body weight – so when you run, for example, it’s putting uneven stress on the body.
It usually results in a couple repetitive injuries and sources of pain:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin Splints
- Ankle issues (like repeated sprains)
- Patellar Tendonitis
- Lower Back Pain
How to Fix Plantar Fasciitis, Shin Splints or Ankle Issues (Pronation Distortion Syndrome)
Have any of you ever constantly had the same achy knee – for years? Or what about an ankle that has never seemed to quite “be right.” Foot problems?
Pronation distortion is all about two things: the feet are not loading weight properly, and the knees are not loading weight properly. This sets you up big time for injury down the line.
Notice the list of common injuries? Plantar fasciitis (bottom of the foot), shin splints (around the front of the calves).
If you have any lower body injuries, this is the place you should be starting.
The knees are caving in, and the feet are caving in. So instead of your body weight being evenly loaded on your knees, and in the center of your feet, it’s on the inside of your feet (stressing the ankle), and isn’t centered over the knee (stressing the knee).
Now imagine taking 10,000 steps on a run with this situation — it’s easy to visualize why almost everyone has some kind of chronic pain.
What’s actually going on that’s causing you pain:
The knees are adducting (pulling in) and rotating inward more than usual. Remember what I talked about in the ultimate guide to fixing knee pain forever? Anything that alters how the weight is loaded on your knee is going to produce dysfunction and pain down the line.
One of the biggest things I realized was behind my knee pain was that my left ankle wasn’t loading weight properly, and my knee was rotating inward.
What about the feet? The feet tend to be pointing out (everted), and are pronating, meaning they are rolling inwards – rather than just loading weight straight and evenly throughout the foot. And if you compare your two ankles, you’ll notice that the one with issues usually has a reduce ability to bend upwards, towards you.
How to fix it:
- Stretch the shortened muscles (Gastrocnemius/soleus, Adductors, IT Band, hip flexors)
- Strengthen weakened muscles ( Gluteus medius/maximus )
Priority: Return knee and ankle alignment to normal.
Stretching the shortened muscles
So for those of you who think you’ve got pronation distortion-type stuff going on, these are the stretches you should try doing as much as possible.
At the minimum, I’d recommend doing these every day twice, for 30 seconds each time.
A. Leaning gastrocnemius/calf stretch
B. Wall calf stretch
C. Adductor stretch
D. Hip flexor stretch
Muscles to strengthen:
According to the research that Jana did, stretching out the shortened muscles is only a piece of the picture. The other absolutely necessary part is to strengthen weakened muscle groups.
The two main groups you need to worry about here are your butt muscles. Your butt muscles are some of the main muscles used in keeping proper leg alignment. The problem is that most of us are expert couch potatoes and sit all day at work – which results in our butts getting weaker.
I would recommend doing these exercises 1-2x a week, for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions each.
Gluteus Maximus Exercises
Gluteus Medius Exercises
Pronation Distortion Syndrome Recap:
Alright, so we know two things are going on here: your knees are not lining up properly, and your feet are not lining up (loading weight) properly.
The question then is: How can I get my knees and feet to line up properly?
The answer: By stretching the tightened muscles, and strengthening the weakened ones. Also, when you’re exercising, you need to be really conscious of the movements you do because you need to fix old patterns of movement.
In other words, when you lunge, your knee probably caves in a bit when you’re doing the movement, and your ankle might sag. You need to spend a few weeks re-training your body to load the weight properly – which will also require the stretching/strengthening the areas I just mentioned.
How Often Should I Do All These Things?
To be honest?
If you’ve been repeatedly getting the same injuries or pain, then you should probably just incorporate these into a 5 – 10 minute mobility session 5+ times a week.
As little as five minutes every day will make a huge difference in your pain.
Why You’re Suffering From Chronic Pain
In my own experience these are mostly issues caused by sedentary life – and I’m just as sedentary as the person next to me.
Being sedentary does two major things:
- A. Lets muscles atrophy (basically everything if you aren’t exercising)
- B. Tightens certain muscle groups (like the hips and groin, or neck and back)
The result? These two things lead to poor bodily alignment.
Poor bodily alignment leads us to a few things:
- Chronic tension (like upper back pain from hunching over a computer all day).
- Improper muscle activation and bio-mechanics when exercising (back pain or knee pain when running? Shoulder pain when bench-pressing or doing pushups?)
- Forces certain body parts into flexion (like your neck from looking at a computer screen. This is actually why I had insomnia for close to two years – pain! – and no one had any idea what was going on.)
These all lead us down the road to chronic pain.
Just check out my “Why Cavemen Never Had Backpain” post. Look at the pictures of people’s posture in the 1800s and 1900s compared to now. It’s scary.
A lot has changed in the last hundred years. We really do need to treat health as modern health. The requirements for modern humans to get healthy, fix pain, or lose weight are far different from someone 100 years ago.
Hopefully this helps get you on the path to recovery!
Try it and let me know how it goes —
Images: Calf wall stretch