I received a request from a follower on twitter to post about problems with knees. While I can’t give detailed advice on recovering from an injury without seeing someone in person, I can give some general suggestions on how to keep your knees injury free.
Like all parts of your body, your knees are not islands in your legs. Knee health is mostly depended on the health of other surrounding body structures. I have boiled down knee care to a few hints that will increase your chances to have strong and flexible knees for years to come.
1. Reduce Impact and Twisting– Are your favorite activities high impact or require lots of twisting? These activities put enormous strain on your knees. It’s hard for many who love these activities to stop doing them altogether. Maybe you could cut down. Cross training can be most beneficial. For instance instead of running 5X a week you could run 3X a week and swim or row 2X a week. Give those knees a break and still keep fit.
2. Leg Muscle Balance– Often people will develop pain on either side or the top of their knees. This can be caused by a muscle imbalance in the legs. A certain muscle or muscle group might be too weak. Make sure when you are strengthening your legs you hit all muscle groups not just quads, hamstrings and calves. The most common leg weakness I find with my Seattle massage clients are the adductors (inner thighs).
3. Pelvis Alignment and Muscle Balance- When your pelvis is out of alignment or you have a weakness in the muscles that stabilize the pelvis there is a large chance that you will become a victim to “trickle down ergonomics.” Which is a silly way of saying, what is going on structurally above the body greatly effects the lower structures. This is extra critical when the structures are as close to the knees as the pelvis.
4. Feet and Ankle Alignment and Muscle Balance- Are you landing on your feet evenly? Do you have weak ankles? Are you using comfortable and supportive shoes? These are all important things to keep mindful of and address immediately. This could be based on the “trickle up ergonomics” theory.
5. Range of Motion– If you spend more than an hour a day with your knee in one position then it is important for you to move it. Are you sitting a lot? Get up, stretch your legs and walk around for a few minutes every hour. Don’t drag your feet or shuffle when you walk. This bad habit promotes poor range of motion in the knee, hip and ankle.
6. Flexibility- Do you stand a lot? Do some leg stretches, especially for the quads and calves, every two hours. It is important that you stretch ALL OF THE LEG daily. The most common tightness I find in folks are the quads and adductors. Many runners will sacrifice stretching for added running time. This is not a good idea if you want to keep running for many years.
7. Body Support Team– If you are an active person or are currently having knee pain, it is important that you have a health practitioner that you can go to that will help you keep everything strong, flexible and aligned. My favorite type of practitioners for this are massage practitioners, physical therapists, and personal trainers.
If you have a more specific persistent issue that you are dealing with in regards to your knees, please seek medical help immediately. The sooner you start care the greater your chance for a speedy recovery and don’t underestimate the power of ice for injury recovery. PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/