A frequent complaint from my clients is achy, stiff, sore, or inflexible knees. There are lots of reasons that knee pain or stiffness is reported by people of all ages. Your first knee injury could have occurred when you were a child and you fell on the playground or while riding your bike. Regardless of your age, your knees have probably been exposed to many bumps and strains, and you may have experienced some knee woes along the way.
Let’s talk about the mechanics of our knees and their part in our lower body kinetic chain. The knee is a complex hinge joint joining the upper leg (femur), kneecap (patella), and lower leg (tibia) and (fibula). The knee joint supports your body weight, absorbs shock and functions to straighten or bend your lower leg. There is also a small amount of normal side-to-side, back-to-front, and rotational movement in the knee.
As we’ve discussed, the lower body kinetic chain is the foot-to-ankle-shin-to-knee-thigh-to-hip connection. Throughout the chain, the bones are supported, stabilized and buffered by muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bursa acting in unison.
The demands placed on our knees from the time we begin to walk as a toddler are many. Because the knee complex bears the weight of the body as we walk, climb stairs, jump, dance, or run, it is vulnerable to injury, overuse and osteoarthritis. When factors such as “chronic sitting” at a desk, in front of a computer monitor, long car commutes, or a generally sedentary lifestyle are added in, it is easy to understand how our knees start to complain. Of course, as we age all of the above factors affect our knees as well as other joints throughout our body.
Whenever there is a disruption of normal function and range of motion in the knee causing pain and immobility, an important first step is to determine the cause of your discomfort. If you know the cause is injury, generally time, icing and elevation will enable you to heal. Chronic pain and/or inflexibility indicates more than a healable injury and should be checked by a physician before embarking on any exercise or stretching regimen.
Even those whose physicians diagnose them with osteoarthritis are still able to engage in some forms of exercise and stretching (with doctor consent). Whether your knee pain/discomfort/inflexibility is caused by injury, overuse or arthritis, you can still regain some of what you have lost through proper stretching, exercise and flexibility movement.
This Dr. Jo YouTube video shows some knee stretches. They are quite simple and you can use things you have on hand.
As always, listen to your body as you work achy, inflexible, or long unused muscles and joints. Starting with as little as three minutes per session and working your way toward longer sessions helps to insure that you will stick with it.
You may tire of this disclaimer, but here it is: I am not a physician, but offer tips, resources, and news intended to help you live life to the max. Fire up those knees!