THEY SAY “the legs go first.” The ‘’THEY SAYERS” are usually athletes and what “They” usually mean is that the knees hurt and no longer work the way they used to. Note the number of ‘They Sayers’ who star in TV commercials touting coppering, bracing, braceleting, taping, compressing, vibrating, rubbing, and popping.
For the most part knees work perfectly well unless they’ve been abused, misused, or smacked from the side and uncared for. Running on the road abuses knees. You would NEVER run a good horse on the road. It would ruin its legs. Are yours not worth the care? Constant blows as in football abuses knees. Poor training abuses knees and overloading in weight training abuses knees… to mention a few.
Well cared for knees usually last their owners a lifetime.
The average leg which houses the knee starts taking a beating early on in America. It suffers from lack of exercise. “Beginning in baby carriages, playpens and car seats, the will to move is systematically starved. The muscles don’t atrophy from non-use; it’s worse than that: they never develop in the first place.”
There was a time when youngsters were not allowed to do deep knee bends. It seems that a study was done using five football players and weight lifters who were asked to do “duck walks” and then complained that their knees hurt. The conclusion of the study was that duck walks and knee bends were bad. The net result of that totally mistaken paper was that children in elementary schools were told that knee bends were dangerous.
The knee is controlled, for the most part, by the quadriceps in the front of the upper leg and the gastrocnemius in the back of the lower leg. The lower leg and feet propel you up the stairs, the quadriceps are used to come down. And if you are a mountain climber or serious hiker you KNOW what your quadriceps can feel like at the end of your day.
If the quadriceps are tight and / or out of alignment it is the poor knee that suffers. Imagine the vastus medialis is like a band of tubing that stretches from just below the knee to a ridge that runs up the back of the femur, your thigh bone. Now imagine that that tubing has a knot in it. The tubing will shorten, it will pull on the attachment and you will feel pain in the knee. If left unattended, the knee will keep hurting. Nearby muscles, the adductors on the inside of the leg not designed to do the work, will begin to try take over, leading to more pain and over time a tendency to bowed legs and worn meniscus.
To determine why your knees hurt and where the problem lies, you need to test the muscles that are most likely to cause the pain or stiffness: the quadriceps and the calf muscles. The easiest way to test the quadriceps is to lie face down, bend your knee and have someone press your ankle toward your back pocket. Your heel should touch your back pocket area or gluteals. If your heel doesn’t touch, measure the distance from your heel to your gluteals.
To test the calf muscles, stand barefoot facing a wall with one foot about two inches in front of the wall. Bend the knee and keep your foot flat on the floor. Does your knee touch the wall? If so, move it back a bit and retest. Enter the distance from your toes to the wall at the last point where you can successfully bend and touch the wall with your knee while the h eel stays flat. Test the other leg. The legs are tested separately because often one set of calf muscles is tighter than the other. The average is four inches. Athletes like skiers and dancers require extra flexibility in this area if they are to perform well and not tear the Achilles tendon.
Trigger Points In The Quadriceps
To take the trigger points (knots) out and loosen the muscles, use the illustration of the anterior leg as your guide and the dotted lines as outlined. Note that the elbow is cupped between the thumb and forefinger to prevent slipping. Also note that the elbow is directly under the shoulder – which means that you will be on the point of your elbow and therefore be more exact and can use the weight of your body to do the work.
Follow the dotted lines holding each sensitive point for 7 seconds before moving on. Go in slowly and listen to the body under your hands.
To treat the outside line, reach over the body. To treat the inside line, walk around to the other side for the best angle and control.
Trigger Points In The Calf Muscles
To treat the trigger points in the calf muscles have your partner lie face down. Using the same technique, follow the three dotted lines in the calf muscles (middle, inside and outside) as shown in the diagram of the posterior leg. If you pretend that the lower leg is covered with nylons of the olden days (with a seam down the middle), you will know exactly where to go. These can be very sensitive so make sure y our partner does not react by bending the other leg and kicking you in the head. Go in slowly. Remember YOU may be the next person on the table.
Re-educating the Muscle With Corrective Exercise
Following the treatment, stand up with feet together, and do half knee bends to a rhythm: down two, up, two. Down, two, up two. Repeat four times keeping your feet flat. Do not let your heels come up. For best results, repeat this exercise often throughout the day as a reminder to your newly freed muscles.
How do your knees feel? Less painful, safer, more alive?
To see how good your treatment was and to encourage your hurting person, use the two tests at the beginning and test yourself again. In both cases you will probably find your muscles are looser and happier and that your measurements have improved.
More Work To Be Done
Like many things in life, it often takes time to get there. In this case it is likely that you will need more than one trigger point Myotherapy treatment to reap the full benefits. This is the beginning step.
For complete information and directions on how to treat yourself and others with Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy see the books Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide To Pain Free Living or Bonnie Prudden’s After Fifty Fitness Guide.
We are always happy to help you feel better!
If you have questions or need help, email me at email@example.com.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®