House Call: Relief for Sore Knees

If just the thought of crouching down in the hack sets your poor knees on fire it might be time to make some modifications to your delivery. While the traditional delivery requires a series of deep bends and squats there are ways to modify it to decrease joint pressure and retain accuracy. The most common complaint for those with bad knees is squatting down in the hack prior to initiating your delivery. This position is a very deep squat and can exert a lot of pressure on the joints. To find relief I recommend you Start from the Top. Instead of getting all the way down in the hack, start with your hips up, as though you have already completed your backwards motion. Next bring your sliding foot in behind the stone and complete your slide. Many people, including a number of competitive players featured at the Scotties or Brier, find this modification helpful.

Team Manitoba lead Dawn Askin uses the “Start From the Top” delivery (Photo CCA/Andrew Klaver)

Another reason this modification works well is that it eliminates the backwards motion which can easily go awry with wobbly hips. If you find you’re not getting the same amount of speed you used to achieve when using the backwards motion, be patient. You may need to drive out a little harder with your hack foot, but wait until you are comfortable before adding the speed. You could also try moving your foot a little higher up in the hack to get more momentum. Something else that commonly bothers individuals with bad knees is turn out. Not ballet turn out, but something similar. Many people turn out their leading foot when sliding in order to cover more surface area of the ice and achieve better balance. However, if an individual turns out their foot too much and the knee is not located over top of the toes during the slide, they may find severe pain ensues because of the unnatural twisting to the joint. To correct, simply practice turning out the foot less and less until a spot where balance and bodily comfort are both achieved. Some curlers find the knee pain in their trailing leg, not their leading leg. This is especially common with new curlers. Your knee is likely going to make contact with the ice when you slide, but you can control how hard it hits the ice. Think about stretching that back leg out as far as you can and pushing down as hard as you can through your hips. This extension will actually keep the knee from smacking down onto the ice. If your knees are simply getting too beat up from sliding, you may wish to consider purchasing a knee patch. I recommend trying to go without it as often as possible, though. Use it when your knee needs time to recover, and the rest of the time work on increasing extension and flexibility. If your knees cause you so much pain there is no way you can squat in the hack, have no fear. Stick curling is an excellent option that eliminates the need to squat down and slide. It is permissible to curl in most regular leagues with a stick and some clubs even have special leagues and bonspiels just for stick curlers. Don’t let knee pain hold you back. Make a few small changes and you’ll be staying in the game a lot longer.