T Nation

Popping knee caps

Okay here it is. My fucking knee caps started popping recently. I also, at about the same time, started doing leg extensions again AND stretching my hammies. Yeah, the problem obviously lies there but I wondered it any of you have or had popping knees and dealt with it.

If it is just popping and there is no pain or swelling it may not be a problem. The issue that causes problems for many people is patellar mistracking i.e. during bending of the knee instead of the knee cap moving straight vertically up the knee in the groove meant for it, it moves up laterally (toward the outside of the knee). This causes the cartilage on the back of the knee toward the outside to be worn down (chondromalacia). I would have someone knowledgable check out your patellar tracking. If your knee cap does move toward the outside as it moves up then: (1) I would strengthen your medial quads (to help pull the knee cap toward the inside) and (2) find ways e.g. massage to loosen your “ilio tibial band”. This is a thin band of tissue which runs down the outside of your thigh and is often tight in patients with chondromalacia. This acts to pull the knee cap towards the outside. Warming up e.g. 10-15 minutes of the dreaded cardio and stretching before leg exrecises is also important.

Hey, talk about knees. My room mate busted up his knee pretty bad. I took him to this clinic and they told him that he had some fluid in his knee. This doesn’t sound good. Well, to tell what happened, he was play wrestling around with a friend when he heard 3 loud pops and hit the floor faster than me seeing my ex. He stayed there for about 20 minutes. He got up and has been limping around ever since. It is slightly swollen and he feels pain only when extending it or contracting his knee. Any thoughts? Should I take him to the ER? Is time a factor?

ITB runs through the knee cap? That’s some new physiology on me. I agree with the kneecap tracking problem. Usually it’s from a few factors:

(1) muscle imbalance – The vastus medialis is the only one of the four quad muscles that pulls the kneecap toward the body centerline, and has to be much stronger than the others to balance out. Straight leg raises with the toes pointed out and up can help. Also, cycling can help out that imbalance.

(2) pronation – Do your feet go flat to the floor? This can cause some functional twisting in the knee and mistracking of the kneecap. Try and podiatrist. Orthotics may be in order if this is a chronic problem.

(3) foot splay – do your feet point out to the side when you walk? Even though your feet aren’t “flat”, extreme foot splay can cause a functional pronation problem, which results in the same symptoms as above.

Hey mike, your roomate may have torn his meniscus. I tore mine about five years ago while wrestling with my dad. I heard a loud popping sound, and I felt most of the pain when I either bent my leg, or when I tried to completely straighten it. In fact, I wasn’t even able to completely straighten my leg, as the meniscus tear created a sort of wedge in my knee joint. I ended up having the knee scoped. Anyway, it’s something to have checked out.

I tend to agree with Scott. If there’s no pain, I wouldn’t worry too much. For safety’s sake, you might want to mention it to your doctor at your next physical. For the record, nearly every joint in my body cracks, some quite loudly. People can hear me from the next room through a closed door when I wake up in the morning and stretch. Dips are fun too, because for the first TEN reps my elbows, shoulders, and clavicles crack and pop throughout the entire range of motion. It actually sounds quite disgusting, but it doesn’t hurt at all. My doctors have told me not to worry if there is no pain. I hope like hell they’re right.

Gladiator, thanks. I had my poor bastard of a room mate go to the ER. They told him that he “strained/sprained” his knee and they gave him a huge knee brace. Well, needless to say, he’s gonna be off for a few days. Are there any supplements that will speed recovery? I was thinking about glucosamine but what exactly is injured when you get a sprain? Joints or muscles or both? I would like to help him but don’t know how (kinda like my ex-girl).

Mike, usually when you sprain your knee you’ve stretched the ligaments further than they should have been. So I’m not aware of any supplements that would help. Ice and resting it are probably most beneficial at this point.

I was at a seminar of Ian King’s about 1-2 years ago and he showed us some things that can possibly help with popping joints. What Ian told us is that most joints of the body have an optimal performance with movement as long as the tissue (muscles and connective tissue) that make the joints move are at a degree of optimal tension. If you have a tight muscle or tendon pulling at a joint, it can make that popping sound. My shoulders used to crack a lot because of a strained trap from lifting, but since i’ve started treating it with A.R.T. I barely hear a pop, and no popping immediately after my muscle session. For the knees though, if you’re not having any pain, you might just have some tight tissue pulling on the knee cap like everyone is saying. A quick test would be to do some free-standing squats and listen to how much popping is coming from the knee. After a couple of reps, start to stretch and massage the muscle all around the knee. This means quads, hamstrings, calves and tibialis muscle (front shin). When Ian had us sit down and massage the Tibialis muscle for a couple of minutes (1-2) and then we stood up and repeated our squats listening to the knees there was significantly less popping. He was trying to stress the importance of warm-ups and proper stretching before working out to provide your joints the best possible working conditions. If your knees start to ache or swell, definitely see a sports doctor or orthopedic doc and get it looked at before something else goes wrong.