Limb evolution continued: the knee


In my second post, we’ll visit a very commonly injured joint: the knee.

How the Knee Works with the Hips and Ankles:
Runners (as advertised in running magazines and with no understanding of the biomechanics of their activity) learn to live with knee pain. Others limit their activities because doctors tell them to and end up making things worse (many doctors only know how to fix, not prevent, other than by keeping you stationary). The bottom line, it’s like when some irate person screams at me: it’s not me. With the knee, it’s not the knee. The knee is cool, moves only in one direction. It’s the hip (too tight, not engaged) or your ankle (not pivoting, especially when keeping your heel anchored to the ground rather than loose and mobile in many movements) that mess things up for the knee, who gets the blame for their screw-ups.

How has our Knee Evolved?
The ape leg is straight from hip to foot. As humans, we have a displaced our upper leg limb from its midline (“valgus” –look the word up-) in order to be able to place our feet under our center of mass when walking upright. Check out the shorter legs and wider stance of an ape’s skeleton by comparison. Legs, back when we were not upright walkers, served a different purpose and used a different weight distribution.

Human and hominid/ape skeletons

Ways to Protect your Knee in Training:
The question now posed is: what do you do with that information? Well, in your training drills, you want to develop mobility and stability in your hip and ankle complex to protect your knee from rotational and adduction forces. Dr Nicholas Romanov published a great book called The Pose Method of Running, in which he breaks down proper biomechanics.

“What if I am not a runner?”
Joint mobility is still tremendously important. The lessons learned from the Pose Method of Running carryover quite easily into tennis, martial arts, cycling, swimming. Efficiency of movement, proper loading mechanics to improve your leverage is what the system is all about. I strongly suggest the book as a must read if you are looking to improve any area of fitness, not just running.

Training Resources:
Although, having been trained myself in it, I urge you to find a Pose coach near you, as there is no substitute for proper individual coaching. In an upcoming interview, I will interview Lee Saxby, one of the highest Pose coaches worldwide after Dr Romanov himself, also the fitness director at Wildfitness. Lee taught me Pose, along with other coaches in the first ever Wildfitness Coaches training in London, UK, in May 2008.

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5 comments on “Limb evolution continued: the knee”

  1. Philippe Til

    I don’t know about repairing itself if it is damaged, but I;ll give you one specific success story. I have trained -and still am training- a client who was a knee surgery candidate, elective, with one doctor, and after a few months of adjustments, turned out to not be in need of surgery. With proper Pose, the knee is not weight bearing.
    Also, since we don’t live in a vacuum, applying proper weight training techniques, such as taught in the RKC system or Wildfitness, allowed her to improve her range of motion and musculature.
    How you judge a damaged knee is by seeing a qualified MD, of course. But if addressing proper movement patterns improves your knee, as well as address proper joint correlations (as in Z-Health, where knees and elbows connect) so that you find yourself pain-free and with a well working kinetic chain, isn’t that the goal?
    Look at your hip, look at your ankle. In my client’s case, her hip was stiff (sit-down overuse pattern common to the office worker), but one ankle was rolling in (from an old injury). Also, minimizing the wear of high-heels helped her remove strain on her knees. Pose pulling drills, opening up the hips, ankle rotations and even light skipping (for the Brits) or rope jumping (for the Yankees) or “corde à sauter” (for Frogs like myself) were some of the drills we used.

  2. Mathieu

    Super interesting read. Also keeping the book in mind.

    So the knee can repair itself rather well if our actual Pose and hip condition can be fixed?

  3. Aaron Gigantino

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  4. Benito Free

    Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

  5. The Method

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