There’s a war going on in your own body and you might not even know it’s happening. Sure you get the pain in your knees, but no matter what stretches and core stability exercises you do the pain persists. So it might surprise you to find out that there is a very deep relationship between your neck, head and back that cause knee pain. When your body gets into bad habits such as the head pulling back, neck shortening and the hips being fixed it can over tighten our inner thighs, quadriceps and hamstrings to the point where we create pressure on out knee cap. Yes, we do it to ourselves.
The knee joint has very little wrong with it, but becomes the fall guy for the rest of the body’s misuse. The way that the psoas muscle is attached to the spine, pelvis and top of the femur is complicated by how the inner thigh attaches to the front of the pelvis and femur. This arrangement means that if one over tightens so does the other. They are both in it together. To be honest there are so many muscles around the hips, I generally refer to it as the clapham junction (a station with probably the most platforms in the UK!) of muscle in the body. The gluteus maximus or butt muscles can tighten and pull on the hamstrings. The quads can tighten and create a huge amount of tension on the trunk, in particular but not exclusive to the lower back.
So practically speaking how do we prevent this tightening up from happening?
1) Imagine you are alone on a desert island, you have eaten your favourite meal, you’re immune to alcohol and you’ve just drank 10 pints of guinness! Now that might sound like a lot, but we hold onto our bellies like mad. Vanity, fear, instability; it doesn’t matter. You need to let it go. It needs to release. Put some cushions or books behind your hips to stop them from tipping backwards.
2) Walk for 20 minutes or more, slowly whilst imagining your knees are becoming increasingly heavier. Very very heavy in fact. Your knees need to be allowed to hang from your hips. That will creates a natural stretch that takes pressure off the back and the legs.
3) Also think of your hips dropping away from the top of your neck. I know that it might seem like your shortening the distance between your knees and hips, but don’t worry about that. It really is about a counter balance of forces. Dropping your hips allows more release in the inner thighs.
So the knee joint really is just taking the punishment for the rest of the body. It’s tension building up and it’s not to say that you can’t do damage this way. You can, bones rubbing on joints from misuse will cause pain. I did something similar to this but by collapsing my back which slipped my discs causing my vertebrae to rub together and putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. But when people don’t collapse they can get hernias from holding their bellies in place. Or the tension comes out in the knee joint.
You can’t get rid of tension, you can only redistribute it. And all of us go wrong in some way, but we do it in very individual ways. There are as many different ways of going wrong as there are people, but they do follow some common patterns. It’s also worth doing semi supine, because this really will take the pressure off you back and the knee. It’s very important to remember to keep your legs bent or only have one leg at a time out straight in this position. Of course if you don’t stop and give yourself time to be in semi supine the effect will not be as great.