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Hands On Healing in Montgomery, Alabama offers bodywork treatments and exercise programs designed to reverse and prevent knee injuries.
For the majority of the adult population walking has become as much a part of daily life as breathing.
It doesn’t require our constant mental focus or thoughts, we simply put one foot in front of the other and off we go. This of course is all conditioned into our brains through years of reinforcement and regular activity.
However, simply because we’ve learned to walk and do it regularly, does not mean we always walk as well as we should, or as well as we could.
So what exactly happens to us when we don’t walk correctly?
The most commonly and adversely affected joint involved with improper walking is the knee.
As a general rule for bodyworkers and therapists, knee conditions are considered secondary problems that are the result of poor hip function and weak development in the arches of the feet.
At a glance the knee really does seem quite simple, with its basic function resembling a hinge like you would find on a door.
However, if the knee acted exactly like a hinge, it would be far too rigid to comfortably walk on uneven terrain. The knee would not be able to adjust and compensate for the ground beneath our feet.
The knee is shaped as a bicondylar joint, which consists of a convex shape of one bone resting atop the concave shape of another articulating bone.
Figure 1 (click to enlarge) offers a basic view of this design.
This bicondylar shape allows the knee to perform its primary function of flexion and extension, while also allowing for some rotational movements to occur within the joint.
The benefit of this rotational design is the ability to adjust to uneven surfaces as we walk and it also helps in absorbing shock from hard falls or activities like running and jumping.
It is very important to note that although rotation is essential for allowing the knee to adjust to terrain and absorb shock, rotation is not the primary function of the knee joint.
Excessive rotation in the knee that does not release and realign will eventually lead to a number of dysfunctional conditions.
One of the most notable is a slow progressive degeneration of the spine.
Looking at the daily life of the average person and the needs we all have of getting from place to place, knee dysfunction and pain should be given a good assessment to ensure that future conditions do not become more serious.
Since knee movement is controlled predominantly by the thigh musculature, talking to your therapist about leg work and stretching can really go the extra mile in ensuring that you can walk an extra mile each day.
There are several problems that can occur in the knee itself.
One of the leading factors for the development of pain conditions is overuse of a misaligned joint, and the knee is probably the most abused joint of them all.
Proper knee function requires a balance between a strong structure to keep the joint together and full flexibility to allow smooth movement. Should too much of either function take dominance, everyday activities will begin damaging the structures of the knee.
For the average person, maintaining good alignment of the knee really comes down to keeping the musculature of the thighs very loose.
Many times a client’s primary complaint is of pain right behind the kneecap.
When the quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh become rigid and tight, they will push the patella (kneecap) down against the surface of the femur, grinding away at the cartilage and causing inflammation and pain.
These types of conditions are readily treatable through bodywork and stretching.
The most important subject to discuss about misalignment of the knee joint is ligament damage.
Since ligaments serve as the last line of defense against dislocation of a joint, it’s crucial that they are kept healthy and functional. In a well-aligned joint, the ligaments will remain somewhat soft and relaxed and will act much like a rubber band to prevent a joint from dislocating when too much force is applied to it.
However, in a misaligned joint, the ligaments become completely stretched, meaning that should a movement produce force to dislocate a joint, the ligament could very well tear or snap.
In the knee joint, the most common ligament injury is the loss of the medial collateral ligament (the MCL) on the inside of the knee. This is very common amongst people who have knocked knee conditions.
Another bothersome ligament injury, common amongst athletes, is tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which makes up more than 75% of the knee’s stability (See Figure 2, click to enlarge).
Since ligaments are so close to the bone, any tearing or damage to them must be treated by a trained medical professional.
However, a small amount of prevention goes a very long way. Regular bodywork treatment and proper exercise to reverse misalignment could very well save someone from an unwanted injury to the knee.
Be sure to talk to your therapist at Hands On Healing about keeping your knees healthy, before too little is too late.