The knee is a joint that fights for stability.

Haven’t we all found ourselves discussing how we used to be amazing at football, tennis and running… the list goes on and on. Even though we are talking about 10-20 years ago, its almost safe to say that the idea of going back and enjoying a 10K run or a five aside basketball game seems like a distant memory. What if I told you that whatever condition your body or joints are in, you can still make that mental miracle jump into breaking through physical and psychological barriers. Its about time to start living and playing, rather than seeing yourself as a retired Avenger superhero.

Coming from a sporting background, I had to deal with various knee injuries in my short but intense career. Up-to-date, I have done three key hole operations to remove loose cartilage from both knees. Only now am I getting a better understanding of what caused me to be injured and what I could have done to prevent it.

The knee is a joint that fights for stability. I was recently reading an article on the joint-by-joint conversation by Gray Cook, a physical therapist  and founder of the FMS- Functional Movement Assessment and by Mike Boyle a renown  strength and conditioning coach. Their argument is that the joints of the body will either benefit from creating stability or from creating mobility when it comes to training and to injury prevention. Lets stay on topic and look at the knee-joint.

“The knee has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. This tendency usually predates knee injuries and degeneration that actually make it become stiff.”

– Gray Cook

(http://graycook.com/?p=35)

As per the quote there are 3 important factors that will affect the state of a healthy knee.  Strength in the muscles above and bellow the joint, these include:  the 3 big muscles of the quadricept (Vastus medialis, Lateralis and Rectus Femoris), the 3 big muscles of the hamstring (Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus) and the calf muscles (Gastrocnemius and Soleus); and finally the muscles that adduct and abduct the leg such as the Glutes and Tensor Fascia Latae.

The second factor is weight. The more weight we have to carry around, the more strain the knees have to deal with. Especially playing a sport such as tennis, our weight is shifted in different planes of motions causing twisting and stretching in tendons, ligaments and joints. A good strength to weight ratio, is key to be able to play any sport. As a rule, the lighter you are the less strength around the knee is required to create stability, making it a lot safer and pain-free for the joint to complete the actions required.

Finally, hip and ankle. In order for these joints to be functionally healthy they require mobility. Lets use tennis as an example again. When lacking mobility, the ankle will cause the knee to compensate and become unstable. Now imagine a moving body that is overweight, with a stiff ankle and lack of strength in the muscles supporting the knee….this will definitely increase the chances of injury.

So, to summarise skip the chocolate cake, create mobility in your ankle and hip with stretches and active mobility drills (salsa dancing works too). Don’t forget to do the exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knee. And who knows, we might be seeing you featured in the new Avenger movie next summer after all!

I hope this message finds you well, for exercises on strength and mobility go check out this blog by core performance. (http://www.coreperformance.com/daily/)

“NO MAGIC WANDS, JUST EDUCATED CHOICES.”

Yiannis Konstantonis