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.
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.
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.