Monday 14 November 2016

The knee is the Fall Guy

People will often first notice discomfort in their knees whilst walking downhill. Or they notice a terrible jarring as they step down or jump from a ledge.  They may notice pain whilst twisting to get out of the car or feel that odd inside the knee side pain when you turn or stand up.

For the most part knees are great. They are fabulous! They offer a lifetime guarantee if used correctly. However when misused, abused or overloaded your guarantee is lost and your way to the surgeon’s table is found.

But! We don’t use knees correctly! We abuse them in 2 very common ways

1 Function./Range
The knee is designed to go through almost 180 degrees of motion from fully flexed- knee bent all the way closed to knee extended- leg straight. This can viewed as a simple hinge movement. (In reality it is a lot more clever)

2. Strength/Power
The knee should be able to easily propel at least our full bodyweight through this range of motion. If the leg is kept flexible and powerful enough for the knee to perform within these parameters it behaves well.

But 1!
The biggest range of motion we put out knees through is chair to upright, this represents about half of its functional ability, Furthermore, we often take the weight from our legs by using our arms to help push up.  (armchairs are bad for legs!)  Even that good old gym favourite, the squat doesn’t go through a full enough range of motion. (The squat  has to be performed to perfection one can easily overuse the hamstring and gluteals- i.e the back of the legs and the bum- and go easy on the quads allowing the muscles that control knee extension to remain weak.)We let the system  get weak.

But 2!
We all get overtight hips from sitting too long and performing repetitive movements (most sports involve a lot of repetitive movement). This means that the hips can’t/don’t rotate and the knee may take up some of the rotation… ouch!

Abused and neglected knees fail.

It is not necessary to spend hours in the gym sweating it out on a torture rack trying to solve this problem. You can put your knees through a full range of motion doing regular daily activities.
I work out while I tidy and do laundry and even going to the loo!

e.g/Don’t bend in front of the washing machine.

Squat and distribute your weight across your whole foot. Your knees will be slightly wider than your feet.

Straighten your back push the knees forward and out over your feet,balance there as you work.

You have to come up from this knee forward position.
This will ensure that those big muscles in the front of your leg are really working

To come up  straighten your back and come straight up.
Feel your feet pushing into the ground as you push the ground away.

Similarly when putting things into low cupboards, sitting up from a chair or from the toilet-something we all do everyday! - Don’t use your arms, instead. Straighten the back push the knees out over your feet, push into the ground, come straight up and pull your hips forward under your shoulders.
 If you are weak you will want to come up bum first then pull your upper body over your hips.

Try to come up from the floor with a straight back forcing the legs to work. The muscles are in there you just need to keep them capable.
It's like that old saying, 'Use it or lose it!'