Why Your Knee Buckles When Walking & How To Stop It From Giving Out

Does Your Knee Buckle When Walking?

Watch this video to learn what why your knee buckles when walking plus tips to keep your knee from giving out when walking.

Knee Pain Guide by Knee Pain Specialist Dr. Dave Candy. More 4 Life, St. Louis, Manchester, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Ellisville, MO Learn to relieve: knee pain when going up and down stairs, knee pain when sitting, knee pain when walking, and more!

Why Does My Knee Buckle When I Walk?

There are some serious things that can cause your knee to buckle when you're walking.

For example, severe meniscus tears or ligamentous tears can make the knee structurally unstable.

Fortunately though, if you haven't had a traumatic injury like a sports injury, fall, or car accident, those are rather rare.

Most cases where people's knee buckles are because of the way they're walking.

The good news is that if you change the way you walk, then you'll be able to walk more comfortably without your knee bothering you. Plus, you can do that without needing surgery to repair some serious damage in your knee.

How To Stop You Knee From Buckling While Walking

We'll go through some tips to be able to walk and improve your knee stability.

Now, if these don't work for you, it's probably a good idea to get it checked out to make sure that there isn't some serious damage.

Tip 1: Prevent Knee From Buckling Inward When Walking

The most common reason that people get knee buckling when they're walking is because of the knee going inward.

knee buckles inward when walking

Imagine a building that's held up by columns...

If those columns or pillars are lined up straight, then it makes the building stable. However, if the pillars buckle inwards, then the building can fall.

The same thing  happens when you're walking.

If you allow your knee to buckle inwards, it will make your leg feel unstable.

How To Fix Inward Knee Buckling

The way to stop that is by making sure that your hip, knee, and foot are all in alignment when you're going to take a step.

Practice weight shifting onto your front leg

Practice shifting your weight forward onto your front leg and then shifting back off.

If you notice that your knee is inside of the vertical line from your hip to your toe, then turn your knee out a little. Make sure that your hip, knee, and toes are aligned.

So that's tip number one.

Tip 2: Get Full Knee Extension When Walking

The second reason that people's knee buckles when they're walking is that if they don't have their knee fully straight.

When your foot hits the ground with a bent knee, it can cause it to buckle.

This is especially true if your bodyweight is behind your foot.

heel striking with a bent knee while walking can cause your knee to buckle

So, it's important to be able to get your knee all the way straight when you are walking.

If you have knee arthritis or stiffness in your joint, you may find it difficult to straighten the knee out all the way.

Fortunately, though there is a self-stretching or joint mobilization technique that you can use to get your knee straight.

Joint mobilization to improve knee extension

Here's how you do it:

  1. Put at towel underneath your lower leg bone just below the knee.
  2. Straighten your knee down into the towel.
  3. Grasp your lower leg bone (tibia) with one hand while pushing downward on the upper leg bone (femur) with the other.
  4. While applying pressure, twist the tibia outward while twisting the femur inward.

After you've done the joint mobilization technique, it's still important that you actually use the knee extension that you've gained when walking.

It doesn't matter if your knee can straighten out all the way if you don't straighten it out all the way when you're walking.

Tip 3: Land With Your Weight Overt Your Foot

Another tip to keep your knee from buckling when walking is to land with your bodyweight over top of your foot.

If your bodyweight is behind your foot, it creates a greater lever arm causing the knee to bend.

heel strike when walking

However, if you take a shorter step and push off your back foot rather than pulling forwards with your front foot, you land with your body over top of your knee.

walking with foot underneath of you decreases the chance that your knee will buckle

This way there's, you use your bony and ligamentous strength to keep your knee from buckling rather than relying on your quad muscles.

That's a much more stable way to walk so that your knee doesn't buckle when you're walking.

However, there are some times when you do need to be able to bend your knee... for example, going down stairs.

How To Keep Your Knee From Buckling When Walking Down Stairs

Walking down stairs is one of the most come times that someone's knee buckles.

It's also the most common time when people fall because of their knee buckling.

Check out our post about How To Walk Down Stairs Without Knee Pain to learn how to go down stairs without your knee buckling.

3 Ways To Stop Knee Pain Going Down Stairs

Need More Help To Keep Your Knee From Buckling?

If you live in the St. Louis area and need more help to improve your knee stability, tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full affiliate disclosure here.