My knee will sometimes go from not hurting at all to hurting pretty sharply. As far as I can tell, this pain is not in response to some activity or position. The pain just pops up. Pop up pain seems like it comes out of the blue, and it can be familiar or new. Pop up pain is a great time to practice quieting what I call runaway pain brain syndrome.
Chronic pain is a little trickier because it comes with a habit of thought. Try these break the pain habit game changers on brief moments of pain first if you can. Pop up pain is not caused by an in the moment injury. Acute injury pain is another topic all together.
Over the years I have developed a particular response to pop up knee pain. Notice that I say I developed the response over the course of years. I used to feel worried when I would feel a sharp pain out of nowhere. Feeling worried would lead down a particular path with me thinking, “Oh no—what did I do? Oh no, this is going to ruin my plan to (fill in the blank). Oh no, will I have to go to the doctor?” The doctor thought can then lead to a whole bunch of other worrisome thoughts.
What I noticed over the years about the pop up pain was that it would often resolve itself quickly. It would be there for a minute, more or less, and then be gone. Since I am all about making friends with my body, I decided to react to the pain differently. So, when I felt the pop up knee pain, I would say, “Thanks for sharing, knee. I hear ya.” I knew I could not ignore the pain, but I did not want to make it a big deal.
In the moment that I thank my knee for sharing, I relax a bit about it and then wonder if there is something I can do to soothe the pain. The train of thought that my knee is just talking to me and that I can help my own self feels empowering to me. One of the results of working with me in my six-month program is that my clients learn that pain doesn’t automatically mean stop and worry. Sometimes a simple Easy Fitness small step exercise will contribute to feeling better.
For pop up knee pain, squeeze in your posterior muscle (yes, you read that right!) and then walk for a bit to see how you feel. Search on YouTube for “Miracle Knee Cinder Ernst” for another great soothing option. The Miracle Knee exercise fires the quadriceps muscle in the front of your thigh. This is a great strengthening/soothing option too. At Knee Friendly Fitness, we know that motion is lotion.
Another great soother for pop up pain in your knee, hip or back is the Tush Tilt. You can find instructions for that exercise on my YouTube channel. Just search “Tush Tilt Cinder Ernst” and it should come right up. You can also do the Tush Tilt standing, which is a great option for pop up pain that happens while you are walking.
Be gentle with yourself and your body. Relax whenever possible, and get curious about what your body communicates to you. What if pain meant “help is on the way”?