I am sure that many of you have knee problems such as soreness, tendonitis or just general stiffness. I was working with an athlete recently and none of his former coaches or trainers knew how to ‘fix’ his knee problems. Mind you, this was an athlete that has access to top of the line athletic trainers and recovery/recuperation methods. Ice and rest were tried after the season but lo and behold as soon as his strength and conditioning program resumed, in rushed that annoying knee pain.
If you remember back a few issues, you will remember that I outline how the body is just a stack of joints, alternating in mobility and stability. If mobility is lacking in a joint such as the ankle or the hip, guess which joint is going to pay the price? That’s right; the knee joint will pick up the slack by becoming more mobile. The only thing is that the knee is a hinge joint and it is not supposed to be that mobile. The knee is simply a reactor of the joints above and below it. All the ice and rest in the world will not make your knees better. Believe me, as someone who had suffered from severe tendonitis in the past, I know.
Every time I would start to play basketball more intensely and frequently, my knees would be so bad that I would often have to stop the car on the way back from my games to get out and stand up for a few minutes. From years of bodybuilding, my hips had become ‘bound’ or too immobile due to a lot of muscle and way too much training in the sagittal plane (front to back). The main question then is how did I fix this problem and how can you fix your knee problems if you are unlucky enough to have them. Below is a list of the things you can do and I guarantee you will have your knees back in a few months:
- Deep static stretching of the hip flexors, adductors (muscles the draw the leg in), hip rotators, gluteus muscles, hamstrings and more of the hip rotators.
- Unloaded squats before every workout. Grab an exercise band, attach it to a high point and grab the handles. Work those joints through a full range of motion repeatedly.
- Leg swings to the front and back and side to side.
- Lateral movements for the lower body such as the lateral reaching lunge or lateral squats.
- Ankle mobility exercises such as leg swings, leg drives into the wall and front to back leg reaches.
- Before the workout, split squat lunges, lateral lunges and transverse lunges with no weight.
- Single leg work such as single leg squats, anterior reaches and skating lunges.
The interesting thing is that much of this list will help alleviate back pain. On a side note, I will be done with that book soon and hope to report back on quite a few more rehabilitation modalities for that back that has been troubling you. I can watch anyone perform a squatting exercise and look at their hips and ankles and tell you where they are hurting. If the hips aren’t mobile enough, the low back and knees will buckle during the exercise. If the body can’t handle something, it will limit the range of motion. If the angle between your shin and foot doesn’t get smaller, then you are looking at ankle mobility issues.
The interesting thing about athletes, in particular basketball players, is that these high top shoes and ankle braces, which are meant to protect the ankles, are in fact reducing ankle mobility. Guess where the lack of mobility goes? You got it (the knee). But, when looking at treatment, all the sports medicine doctors want to go in and scope the knee, but again, they need this surgery repeatedly throughout their careers. “If there is a leak on the roof, don’t try to fix the problem by patching the ceiling.”