First, I love you. I love you like I love my feet, and my hips, and shoulders and spine and… well, you get the picture, like I love every cell of my body that allows me to move.
You were so there for me as a child racing kids down the street, roller skating on broken concrete sidewalks, and for cycling up steep brick and cobblestone hills. You survived a sliding fall on cinders when playing kickball in the alley, cinders still visible today and my badge of honor from my steel city roots, and then that fateful landing coming down from a rebound while playing basketball in high school PE class.
You, along with my hips and some fancy footwork, were the precision and beauty keys to my telemark skiing, the strong link in my hiking and backpacking, and the fulcrum and pivotal gear for my years as a competitive cyclist. Yoga brought you balance and a soothing relief until one day, you had an unannounced visit by our new guest, arthritis.
I woke up and could barely walk, a new experience for me, and an added alarm as I was to teach a yoga workshop that day. I warmed you up and made a trip to the drug store for some NSAID help. You got “better”, but I mark this as the beginning of my journey to knowing you and loving you in a way that I hadn’t before.
You were no longer the means to an end, but my beloved joint to care for and nurture.
Over the years I got some help for you, first a sports medicine doc, much later x-rays and a consult from and an orthopedist, and then PRP therapy. I learned more each time. But truthfully, I now think I took advantage of you and your ability to function, when maybe you needed more care. Damn.
Looking back, I’m sure it was the basketball injury in my junior year of high school that set the stage for where we are now, and also because of some of my God-given structure. I’m writing about you today not so much so that we can look back, but so that we can realize how there is a cumulative effect on your health, if all is not in order, and to offer some insight into keeping you well.
I’m also writing as a reminder to readers, that no matter your age, you are aging!
And the knees need some major TLC along the way to keep functioning well in your later years. So young and forever young, read on.
Let’s look more closely at the knee joint. There’s a lot going on here in this x-ray, but can I just say that I. am. so. freaking. happy. to see the space in my knee joint–that space between the femur and tibia.
And then there’s the kneecap, the blessed patella, (find the fuzzy circular image on the x-ray) the proverbial bobsled running down its knee-track, the trochlear groove. Get off that run, and you’re going to crash and burn. Looking closely, at my left kneecap. It is off track, knocked off back in high school gym class.
To be sure, keeping space in the knee joint and good kneecap tracking
are paramount for knee health.
You may be on the road for arthritis in your knee joint if you have tightness in your back seam– the area from the sole of your foot, to the calf muscles up the back of the leg, to the low back and further up the back body. I’ll share with you my favorite exercise for opening the back seam in this blog.
Now look at my right knee and the marked Q angle. This is also what contributes to kneecap tracking issues.
I am, by structure, knock knee-d, as many women are, due to our wider pelves (yes, that’s the plural of pelvis!), which are designed for childbearing purposes. This shows up in my Q Angle, which is greater than normal. This too, dear knees, has played a role in our condition today. But let’s look ahead.
How do you take good care of the space in your knee joint,
and better line up your bobsledding kneecaps?
First the list, then video.
Knee Health Video Exercise List
1. Roll out the feet for ankle mobility.
2. Stretch the back seam of your body, ie. the sole of the foot, the calves, and the hamstrings… in one easy
3. Strengthen the quadriceps muscle close to the inside of the thigh.
4. Stretch this same muscle.
5. Love yourself, now and always.
In the video, I have my hand on my legs when stretching the back seam, but you can place your hands on a chair… or your kitchen counter or your desk. The key is to find ways to integrate this movement into your day and it will do volumes for keeping space in your knee joint and for keeping the patella bobsled right in its track.
Do these exercises daily. Stretch the back seam, 3x daily. Be aware of positioning of your feet, knees and hip points, and line them all up. Especially, keep your weight mostly over your heels.
Peace above all.
p.s. What part of your body is talking to you? Let me know and I’ll put it in the que and make a v-log entry in my yoga therapy library.