2015, Series 4, Week 3 - It's The Pitts! (...AKA check out those knee pitts!)

Is this where you say "knee what now?" Bear with me because this may just help a few pieces of the puzzle fit together with a comforting kerplunk.

We know that walking with your feet straight ahead allows the muscles of the legs and pelvis to do their jobs. So why does it make us feel knock kneed? Well after years of walking and sitting and doing just about everything else with our feet (and our lower legs) turning out and our upper thighs rolling in (the exact opposite of what they should be doing by the way).... our knees end up pointing the wrong way too.

The photo below is my knees doing it wrong. The yellow lines running down the grooves on the back of my legs (AKA Knee Pitts) should be lined up right in the middle - but instead they go out to the sides. This means I've got internal rotation going on in my upper thighs too. See if you can pick up that the left one rotates out even more than the right. We are rarely symettrical. The remedy for this is learning how to externally rotate the upper thighs- which we look at in a couple of different ways this week. This is also one of the reasons why we work to stretch the muscles of the inner thighs - making room for correct upper thigh and knee pitt alignment.

 You know that feet straight ahead, knock kneed feeling? Well here is what it looks like from the back.

You know that feet straight ahead, knock kneed feeling? Well here is what it looks like from the back.

We also need to look out for always standing with the knees slightly bent. This generates inappropriate joint force and can damage both the hips and the knees. It is very common and we are almost always completely unaware that we are doing it.

It means the quadricep muscles at the front of the thighs are always on, pushing the knee cap (patella) into the soft tissue behind it. The resulting friction causes inflammation, pain and the wearing away of cartilage.  So we look to relax the quads, get the weight back into the heels and stack the bones in a way that makes us stronger with every single step.

 Knee Cap Lift and Lower is a skill that can take time to really master, but it is worth every bit of effort. When you can do it leaning against the wall see if you can do it standing up (clue: push your butt back over your heels.) Then see if you can you do it on the tram, making jam, on your dome, even while you are on the phone....apol's to Dr Seuss, and everyone else too).

Knee Cap Lift and Lower is a skill that can take time to really master, but it is worth every bit of effort. When you can do it leaning against the wall see if you can do it standing up (clue: push your butt back over your heels.) Then see if you can you do it on the tram, making jam, on your dome, even while you are on the phone....apol's to Dr Seuss, and everyone else too).

Did you know that tight hamstrings and calf muscles (which actually extend over the knee) make it harder to extend the leg without locking the knee? Standing with knees always slightly bent really restricts circulation to the lower leg too - so straight legs with relaxed knees is the way to go.

Mel Can You Please Sum Up All this Knee BlaBlaBla (tribute to last weeks t-shirt!)

  • there is a difference between locking your knee and straightening your leg

  • practice standing with your thighbones all the way back, vertical without locking your knees

  • the cartilage behind your knee caps will thank you for it!

  • you will not be able to do it if your weight is over your toes, back your hips up, weight is in the heels

  • work on this exercise without heeled shoes to really get the benefit, barefoot is great (reflect on last weeks blog - there are pictures!). Wearing heels in your shoes (go and check your runners you might be surprised!) pushes your weight into your toes - so you are far more likely to have your quads locked and knees stressed

Here's Lucy showing us how to 'push your butt back' and get those knee caps moving.

HOMEWORK WEEK 3 - SERIES 4, 2015

You can do your whole Gait Basics handout now, or you can continue to add one exercise a week. Please continue to work with your Hand Stretch each day as well.

  • Foot Alignment
  • Calf Stretch
  • Hand Stretch (not part of gait basics but very important! This is the calf stretch for your upper body!)
  • Foot Stretch
  • Double Calf Stretch
 Double Calf Stretch: Do you sit all day? Wear heels? Tuck your pelvis under because it is the "proper" way to stand? However your pelvis has become tucked, the double calf stretch is a great way to see if your pelvis can move. Place your hands on the seat of a chair. Line up the outside edges of your feet and straighten your legs all the way. Your weight should be back in your heels and all your toes liftable. See if you can lift your tailbone up to the ceiling without bending your knees!

Double Calf Stretch: Do you sit all day? Wear heels? Tuck your pelvis under because it is the "proper" way to stand? However your pelvis has become tucked, the double calf stretch is a great way to see if your pelvis can move. Place your hands on the seat of a chair. Line up the outside edges of your feet and straighten your legs all the way. Your weight should be back in your heels and all your toes liftable. See if you can lift your tailbone up to the ceiling without bending your knees!