Aging Knees? Straighten, then Strengthen!

I’m passing this along, was in the newsletter from our Santa Monica clinic. If you have knee pain and have not started with Egoscue, I encourage you to closely study this entry.

Aging Knees? Straighten, then Strengthen

With 46 million people across the country suffering from chronic joint pain stemming from arthritis, the knees often get a bad rap. Labeled as a “poorly designed joint” or questioned for the wide variety of problems that seem to end up in the knees, they are often misunderstood while taking on the brunt of the load for other misbehaving areas of the body.

In simple terms, the knee is a hinge joint — designed to flex and extend with minor amounts of accessory movement. Why would there be so many issues in a joint that has the simple task of movement in one direction? Well, that’s where things get sticky.

Take a look at this photo:

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Notice anything funny about these knees? Well, besides the major amounts of swelling, you may notice that they point outward and are bowed as well. Who’s job do you think it is to tell the knee which way to point? I’ll give you a hint… it ain’t the knee.

Rather, the knee listens the hip. Sure, the foot and ankle can influence the knee, but overall, the hip is responsible for the direction and placement of the knee. If the hip is neglectful in it’s duty to point the knee in the right direction, then (as you’ll notice in the picture below on the left) the knee eventually becomes unable to flex and extend as it is designed to do. If unable to do it’s job, the knee will start to suffer and complain (as it should) to get help.

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In this case, chronic inflammation is present due to the constant stress and strain the knees are taking from being out of position in all activities, including walking. (Imagine a door off it’s hinges being opened and shut a few hundred times during the day — multiplied by 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, etc). Now, doctors and health professionals will all tell you that movement is good for arthritis and that you don’t want to stay immobilized for long periods of time because it does not facilitate healing. But when there is a negative consequence to moving and a price to pay in the form of pain, it makes being active all the more difficult. And popping meds to help reduce inflammation or to decrease pain may help cope during or after exercise, but is only masking the problem.

There has to be a better way and there is. At Egoscue, we have a mantra that says, “Get Straight, then Strengthen.” This basic premise says get the body in line, then allow it work as it’s designed. If the knees are directed by the hips, then let’s stop beating them up and get the proper hip muscles to do their work in keeping the knees in line. Walking and moving then become all the easier, inflammatory responses go down, and the healing process can take place. Don’t wait too long for all of the cartilage to deteriorate. Get started on your own program today.

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