Minimize my knee pain
November 5, 2010 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Why do I get knee pain after wearing boots? How can I minimize it?

Yes, I know you aren't my doctor. I will have to see a doctor eventually.

I find that if I wear boots, my knees ache. It is almost like a burning sensation and they are much more likely to make a popping noise when I bend them. This is fairly consistent across a couple of different types of boots. It also happens occasionally with my dress shoes, although to a lesser degree.

Potential relevant details follow. I am 35 and male. I went to a podiatrist a few years ago and he gave me an arch support insert. Average weight for my height. My knees pop and aches sometimes no matter what I do, the boots just seem to exacerbate the situation.

I know the simple solution would be don't wear boots, but I am required to in some cases and it is necessary in others. Thanks in advance for the help.
posted by Silvertree to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
How high are the heels of your boots relative to your other shoes? It might be heel height that causes the pain.
posted by OmieWise at 7:18 AM on November 5, 2010

You may have weak support muscles in your ankles and calves. You could try barefoot-style running in Vibram Bikila shoes. It helped my knee a lot.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:24 AM on November 5, 2010

I have the lady version of this problem. In my case, I had some muscular imbalances and was a bit too fat, and the combination led to my getting runner's knee. I fixed it by doing PT to correct the muscular imbalances, losing the extra weight to take some of the load off, and not wearing heeled shoes or shoes that didn't fit correctly.

Without knowing more about what the boots/dress shoes have in common, my guess is that your boots and dress shoes probably have a very low stacked heel (something present on a lot of men's boots/dress shoes, but absent from most other types of men's shoes). This could subtly shift your balance and the way that your body moves during walking, putting a little bit of extra stress on your knees and causing the ache. It could also be that boots and dress shoes usually have a less-supportive sole than many sneakers/casual shoes, or that something else about the fit of these shoes is incorrect and causes you to walk slightly differently (any time your footwear makes you change your normal gait, you're at risk of making your knees hurt). Furthermore, boots tend to encase your ankles, so you lose flexibility there -- this could be another factor that leads to the boots hurting your knees more than your dress shoes.

I would do three main things:

1) Try to build muscle strength in your legs. Unfortunately, you'll need to go to a doctor and/or PT to figure out exactly which muscles you need to strengthen and which exercises you should be doing -- if you just go off half-cocked and try to fix it yourself, you might actually make any muscle imbalances worse.

2) Figure out what factor your boots and dress shoes have in common. Then get some boots and dress shoes that still look and function appropriately, but are more kind to your body. I have had good luck with brands like Born, Keen, Merrell, Clarks, etc. -- shoes that look acceptable (if sometimes a little bit ugly) but are designed with a mind towards comfort and the limitations of the human anatomy. Especially for boots, I would look for boots that are on the flexible side -- either made out of thinner leather or fabric, or lower boots that give you some ankle mobility.

3) Make sure to exercise and take care of yourself in general. When my knees were really sore, I couldn't run, but I could swim and do yoga, and I feel that the yoga especially helped me to recover faster than I would have if I had stayed sedentary.
posted by kataclysm at 7:30 AM on November 5, 2010

NAD, but popping noises are rarely good.

Are you still using the same inserts? They do wear out, and for maximum effect you should have a pair of inserts properly fitted to each pair of shoes or boots you use.

Also, apart from problems with the movement of your foot through it's contact with the ground (which inserts will help), your gait includes a swing and heavy boots can take that too far, thereby putting strain on your knees. Lighter boots can make a massive difference.
posted by Ahab at 7:34 AM on November 5, 2010

Are you pigeon toed?

I am. When I wear inserts in my shoes, I tend to walk less pigeon-toed. But, this puts stress on my knees.
posted by Wossname at 9:56 AM on November 5, 2010

Stand still, raise yourself slowly up on your toes, slowly lower yourself down. Repeat twenty times before bed and after you wake up. Oh and you should be barefoot.
posted by Biru at 10:23 AM on November 5, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, I have a feeling it is related to the heels on the boots. I have replaced the inserts, so I don't think it is a matter of them wearing out.
posted by Silvertree at 1:39 PM on November 8, 2010

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