Knee Pain? Try This!

Knee pain is a pain in the, well … knee. If you’ve been having knee pain or reoccurring knee pain, it’s a good idea to start with some stretching. A pretty common cause of unexplained knee pain is tightness in the front of your legs and in your hips. Since your quad muscles wrap around and stabilize the knee joint, tightness here can cause a pulling of the joint, which can result in pain. Likewise tightness in your hips can often cause a slight rotation of the leg, which also puts your knee joint at risk. (You can also look at a tightening of the psoas which very often causes an imbalance in the hips and legs as well, but that was discussed in a previous post.) Runners especially seem to suffer since they are putting considerably more impact on the knee joints and even a slight imbalance can cause severe knee pain.

A good place to start is with your basic quad stretch, but shake it up a bit and pay really close attention to where you feel the stretch. You can intensify the stretch and increase the impact it has by making two slight adjustments:

1) During the stretch be sure to tuck your pelvis, maintain good posture and keep a strong core (eliminating the arch you may have in your back while doing the stretch)

2) Make sure that your bent knee is pulled inward toward your opposite knee, not pulled away from the midline of your body.

These two minor adjustments make a huge difference on the efficacy of the stretch!

Now you can increase the range of the stretch even further by rotating the bent knee out. Please note you are not pulling the whole leg out, but rather maintaining the above position and rotating just the knee outward. Now do the same thing again, but this time rotate the bent knee inward.

You will probably feel the stretch all the way into the muscles surrounding the knee. But please remember, never stretch into pain! You want to feel it, for sure, but it shouldn’t hurt.

You also want to be sure and stretch the glutes out. Tightness in the piriformis especially can cause an outward rotation of the leg. Try this stretch to try and relieve tight hips:

1) Lay on the floor with your knees bent and cross your right leg over onto your left knee.

2) Now slowly bring the left leg toward your chest as far as it will go with your hands clasped behind the thigh. Mind your alignment and be sure that your right knee maintains a nice 90 degree angle.

3) Deepen this stretch by pausing at the end of step 2 and using your hands, pull your right foot toward you with yor left hand and push your right knee away from you with your right hand creating a rotational stretch of the hip.

The key to this stretch is in making sure that during it your hips remain evenly aligned. Avoid rolling over onto one side or the other to compensate for the discomfort of the stretch. If your glutes are tight this is NOT a comfortable stretch, but it is really effective! Repeat on both sides. You will probably find that the side corresponding with the painful knee is much tighter!

You can also see some more great quad stretches here

Core Fusion Pure Abs and Arms – Watch the full episode now.

Here is a quick and thorough upper body strength workout you can do in 10 minutes. Kiss those noodle arms goodbye!

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What’s The Point of Stretching?

By lululemon athletica,via Wikimedia Commons

We all know we are supposed to do it, but do you really know why stretching is necessary for our bodies? Continue reading

The Lesser Known Fix For Low Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common physical complaints

Low back pain is one of the most common complaints among Americans. If you are one of these people, then you know discomfort. Low back pain , as suggested, refers to pain in the lower section of your back. It can range from a dull ache to intense stabbing and is often not confined to the back alone. Chances are if you suffer from low back pain you will also notice tightness and discomfort in the hips and sometimes down the front back or sides of your leg(s) as well. Oftentimes sitting for prolonged periods of time or intense activity aggravates the condition. Occasionally a person experiences pain when walking.

 

The Iliopsoas is a common culprit for low back pain

The Great Pretender

There are many causes of low back pain including disease, nerve  impingement, herniated discs, inflammation and injury. However there is also one very common culprit to many cases of low back pain that often goes ignored and it is not found in your back. In fact it is more easily reached through your abdomen. Often called the “great pretender” due to how often it is the hidden source of back, hip and leg pain, the Psoas is a deep abdominal muscle that originates on the lumbar spine, travels through the pelvis under the “hip bones” (where it is joined by the Iliacus) and inserts onto the top inside of the femur bone. Continue reading

Exercise Without "Exercising"

Photo by: Ewen & Donabel @ flickr

Today’s article was inspired by a story this morning on NPR’s The Morning Edition which talked about the latest research by Dr. David Neiman, an exercise immunologist at Appalachian State University. According to his study published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who exercised five days a week for twenty minutes each day reported 40% fewer days of being sick.

Now I’m certainly not new to the idea that exercise boosts your immune system, in fact a recent post of mine on Boosting Immunity Naturally talks about this very idea. What struck me about the study was the amount of time spent exercising that was shown to be beneficial. You will often hear me tout the benefits of regular exercise for everything from boosting immunity to balancing moods to better sleep to better brain health. But the fact is, I have just as much trouble as anyone else finding the time to fit it into my life. What with family, a young child, work, chores to do and, oh yeah …  sleep, it’s never as easy as I always say it should be. And let’s face it, when you’re tired you just lack motivation. But twenty minutes? That’s so …. doable.  In fact I do exercise my body for twenty minutes most days (or close to it). The thing is, it isn’t always in a way I consider to be “exercising.” Which made me realize that most of us don’t acknowledge the ways we can (and maybe already do) fit exercise into our lives. Continue reading

The Best Tools For Self-Care

I recently posted an article here that discussed how to get the most benefit out of your massage sessions. One of the key points was that how much of an effect a massage will have on you, will depend greatly on what you do to take care of your self in between sessions. “Self-care” is a term I toss around a lot both on this site and in my conversations with clients and refers to eating well, exercising, stretching and taking time to unwind each day. Today I am going to focus on the best all around tools for maintaining flexibility and reducing muscle tension. The list isn’t long. There are only two items that you really need to have on hand. Continue reading