Most people these days have one of two or both problems – The first being they have tight Hips, which I have addressed here…. The second is they have poor knee health, mobility and movement in general. It seems that a sedentary lifestyle and all that comes with it really comes in the way of our bodies doing their natural ability to regulate synovial fluid in the joints which keeps them strong, mobile and healthy……
I train a variety of people and always start with mobilisation exercises – it’s not hard to tell that the most problematic area for most people in terms of mobility is the knee-joint, they creak, crack and crunch throughout the knee mobilisation exercises. Now this is a good thing as the movements are doing their job in getting nutrients and fluid to the joint – but the problem should have never been allowed to get to that stage in the first place.In this article I want to run over some stuff I feel can help keep knees healthy in day to day life – allowing you to avoid injury and keep mobility in one of the most important and injury prone joints in the body.
Encourage Blood Flow - The best way to do this quite simply is to move. Especially walking and staying on your feet in a good balanced posture without shifting weight from one knee to another when standing. When walk lots on a regular basis our knees don’t have the opportunity to lockup and become immobile. Unlike other exercise walking is low impact and doesn’t stress the joints like running (especially long distances on tarmac) does.
Build the Supporting Muscles – The best prescription for this is to do lots of bodyweight exercises for the legs in good form. Think Lunges, Squats, Yoga etc all of these exercises and activities are excellent at building the deeper muscles and ligaments in the legs, especially those which surround and support the knee. The stronger your muscles around the knee the more blood flow and support of the joint therefore the better the health of the knee. Having strong muscles surrounding the knees will also make them more durable when it comes to impact – a huge advantage for people who play sports on a regular basis.
Mobilise – Bodyweight Squats are the king for knee mobilisation. The Amosov Squat being my favourite (see video below) and the one that seems most effective in opening up and getting nutrients and fluid to the knee joint. Starting each day with a few of these squats is a great way to mobilise not only your knees but also open up the hips for the day.
Wear the right footwear – Spending too long in any kind of modern footwear is not a good thing for the knees. When you are at home take off your shoes, try to spend more time barefoot allowing the body to adjust to a more natural gait. As mentioned in previous posts if you do a lot of sports in shoes consider investing in a pair of free/natural shoes, they will save your knees in the long-term and allow for more dynamic and natural when exercising.
Focusing on knee health is possibly one of the most important things you can do if you have young healthy knees, Problematic knees can pretty much cripple us with age. If you already have knee problems I would give two tips:
Avoid any surgery that is not 100% necessary - it is amazing how many people with minor knee problems that could be fixed with mobilisation and physiotherapy are sent under the knife for their knees to never quite be the same again.
Learn how to extensively mobilise the knee-joint and practice this everyday or at least on a daily basis. This can be done at home or with a specialist in knee rehab, but when you stick at it knee health will improve dramatically in a short period of time. Taking up some form of Yoga or Pilates is a great way to do this if you lack the discipline to do it yourself – make sure to inform the instructor of any knee problems before partaking though.
Strong and Pain Free Knees are essential to being able to live well. Don’t take yours for granted – treat them well and take care of them so they last you into old age.