Save your Knees!
Save your Knees!
By Dr. Glen Hyman
It’s an inevitable fact
of life: the older you get, the more likely you are to develop knee problems.
More than anything else, it’s because your knees take an almost constant beating.
There’s really no way of avoiding it.
Because the knee joint is
so complex, and because so many things can go wrong, we’re going to focus on
a very specific type of knee problem.
The technical term is ugly:
Chondromalacia Patella. That’s Latin & Greek for, “bad cartilage behind
the knee cap.” The knee cap, also known as the patella, serves as a way station
for your quad. It disperses the force that your quad generates so its tendon
doesn’t rip away from your shin.
The undersurface is lined
with cartilage so it can glide smoothly. Chronically tight quads make the patella
track too closely to the rest of the joint. The result is grinding, pain, and
eventually destruction of the cartilage. Obviously, stretching your quads can
reduce this problem. Seeing your friendly neighborhood Active Release® provider
to breakup scar tissue in the quads also helps.
There’s one more thing
you can do: Stay off the Leg Extension machine.
Oh, but how I do detest
the Leg Extension machine.
Wanna know why? Briefly,
when you sit on the leg extension machine, and load your foot with weight, you
create tremendous shearing forces on your knee. As you raise and lower the weight,
you pull your knee cap against the rest of the joint as tightly as is physically
possible, grinding away at the cartilage. One rep is no problem. A few sets?
No biggie. Years of using this ridiculous contraption will add up to an arthritic
Here’s a substitute. Of
course, clear it with your doctor first. The Yoga Style Split Squat makes your
front leg’s quad work hard in a safe and functional way.
This is an excellent alternative
to seated leg extensions. First, figure out your stance. If you’ve never done
any yoga, or if you’re not particularly flexible, this will challenge your groin
muscles, so consider yourself warned.
Get down into a “warrior”
yoga pose to space your legs properly. If you don’t know what that is, check
Without holding any weights,
place your back foot at a 45 degree angle to the front one. The back foot’s
arch should face the front foot’s heel.
Your front foot should be far enough forward so that when you go down, the knee
doesn’t flex past 90 degrees.
Ok, now that you’ve figured out what a Yoga warrior looks like, you’re ready
Grab a couple of light dumbbells.
Hold them with straight arms at your sides.
Begin descending by moving your butt forward and toward the floor.
Go down until your front
thigh is parallel to the floor.
Come to a full stop at the bottom. Absolutely no bouncing!
Once you’ve established
your balance the bottom position, use the quad of the front leg to push yourself
At the end of the set, get
out of the split position by stepping with your back foot.
Obviously, do a set with one foot forward, then do the next set with the other
foot forward. Move slowly, deliberately, and come to a full stop at the top
and bottom of each rep. Prepare for soreness the next day, especially in the
By keeping your feet on
the floor, you compress the knee joint. This protects it. The balance issue
makes bouncing at the bottom of the rep difficult, another knee saver.
Try doing 3 or 4 sets of
8-12 reps with each leg. Stay away from the leg extension machine, and prepare
for a long life with happier knees. Enjoy.
Top position (front and side)
© Dr. Glenn,
Inc. 2004. Denver Chiropractic Center. All rights reserved.
Used with permission by
D3 Multisport, Inc. 2004