DIY Friday: The Mysterious Bum Knee

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*Do it yourself! Every Friday we do a roundup of great posts, videos, or other resources around a theme that help people to turn their bodies from cranky to happy.*

When I was interviewing Christine Jablonski about her rehabilitation from a nasty knee injury, she and I spoke off camera about the fact that the vast majority of knee stuff that we both see with clients is actually not precipitated by an injury, and instead is given that lamest of lame labels (I hate even typing this phrase. I seriously might break out in hives over here.) "normal wear and tear".

Give me a moment while I clear the flash of white rage from my eyes... What!?! I'm sorry but people in their 80's or 90's can talk about "wear and tear" (and even then I've got a lot to say about it), otherwise it is simply far from "normal" for knees to wear out, to the point of requiring either "clean up" surgery or a total knee replacement. So the orthos at some point decided to use the term "wear and tear" instead of the less appealing: "I have no idea why your knee is shot." Or the more honest, "My medical training- which is about performing surgery on people- and world view tell me that our bodies simply wear out for no good reason, so I'm going to throw you into that pile." So get ready for it: If you are using your joints with integrity, i.e. how they are designed to function, then they will not be "wearing" or "tearing". They will simply be doing what they are designed to do, and functioning. 

As Kelly Starrett points out in his book Becoming a Supple Leopardour tissues are designed to last roughly 110 years. Going farther, Starrett clarifies that 1 percent of musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction is due to pathology (i.e. there is some serious disease process going on, for example cancer instead of a torn meniscus), and another 1 percent is due to catastrophic injury (like the kind Christine and I discussed). Which leaves a full 98 percent of dysfunction (98 percent!!!) due to overtension (missing range-of-motion), and open circuit faults (moving in a bad position). In other words, most of our dysfunction, or wearing and tearing, is a result of misusing our own bodies.

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Now before you go shaming yourself into a stupor, please remember that you didn't do this on purpose. Sure you probably ignored some signals that you were pushing it, but mostly it was that you never got the owner's manual on how to use your body with integrity. And sadly we now live in a culture where we are disconnected from that and are doing things our bodies really don't benefit from. Like sitting in chairs, or typing on laptops. But I for one and not going to give up the glory of technology to become a hunter gatherer (I am both sitting and typing on a laptop right now), so let's instead go the route of getting some insight on how not to wind up with the mysteriously bum knee.

Which brings me, finally, to this week's DIY Friday round-up. Both of these posts are courtesy of Vital Gaitway. And sometimes all I can say is, just, wow. Both of these posts are gloriously thorough in explaining how to use your knees with integrity. But as our knees are connected to our everything, they are so much more. If you've ever wondered about healthy standing, walking, or sitting, or just plain how and why do our joints wear out when we're not aligned, well then, this is a treasure trove. It's a bundle of information, and I know we're all time pressed, so I suggest you print them out and make your way through them gradually. The nuggets of wisdom in them are worthy of your time. For reals.

Fixing Your Knees Without Surgery Part 1

Fixing Your Knees Without Surgery Part 2

Enjoy!

*And if you missed it, Christine also gave us her top Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball moves in last week's DIY Friday.

Images by Vital Gaitway