Argh, the knees! I’m sure we can all relate to
the extensive annoyance that the knees can become. That’s because knee pain is
a common ailment. And while there are a number of things that one can do to
ease it, treating knee pain can be difficult because the knee moves and the
pain is caused by that movement.
In fact, knee pain can actually occur more
often in healthy people and athletes due to the constant movement and exertion
that coincides with frequent exercise. Due to the positioning in the body and
the fact that it is the body’s largest joint, the knee just happens to be a
regular bearer of pain.
While there are a host of possible treatments
to assist in pain relief and healing of the knee, you definitely can’t just
take a pill or some other sort of magic cure to make it all go away. In fact,
improving motor control tends to be one of the most successful options out
Motor control is exactly what it sounds like;
control of the body. It is literally the ability of the brain to tell the body
what to do and make it listen. Anything physical that your body does is
possible because of motor control. In fact, neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert
suggests that the only reason we have brains is for producing adaptable and
complex movements (Wolpert, 2013).
Motor control happens naturally due to
mechanical receptors in our joints. The information these receptors take in is
held in the brain and creates a pattern of normal movement, response, and
reaction. This is the way our brain knows to control the knee properly, making
sure that it stretches and contracts at the right times and in the right way.
In fact, since these proper knee movements have been ingrained so deeply in the
brain, they become more of a reflex than a command.
The problem that arises is when people move
and use their bodies in an improper manner. Due to unnatural circumstances such
as poor shoes, poor posture, and too much time spent sitting, the brain is
essentially re-trained to cause the body to move the wrong way. Said another
way, modern culture tends to be lazy and more into fashion than practicality,
so people just end up using their bodies improperly.
When your body moves improperly for an
extended period of time, such as with knees pointing out, feet pointing out, or
a pelvis drop, it negatively impacts your body’s ability to move. It’s kind of
like a car running on fumes; it will keep going for awhile, but eventually it
breaks down. When your body is moving improperly for awhile, the tissues
eventually fall apart and refuse to work. Studies show that most people have
developed poor patterns of movement. In fact, ACL injury rates in females in
2010 increased three times that of males since the year 2000 (Hewett 2010).
That’s why it is imperative to treat knee pain
by fixing your motor control. This means that your whole body needs to engage
in consistent and habitual training of proper movements in order to re-train
your brain to move right and eventually become appropriate reflexes.
When you are ready to engage your body in the necessary reflection and re-training for proper motor control, you will first need to determine if you are using any improper movements. To do so, you need to learn what the right movements are and compare them with the way your body moves.
If you determine that you have improper
movement habits, consistently work on changing those habits to the right ones.
It can be a good idea to work with a coach or trainer who can ensure that you
are practicing these movements the right way, and not creating different bad
As you work on building the proper movement
habits, make sure that you are continuously and intentionally focused on these
habits as you move. If you are not consistent with the proper movements then
your brain will not receive the message that this is the right way to move.
You can prevent or end knee pain naturally and with only a change in your habitual body movements. Re-training your motor control will make your body healthier, stronger, and even last longer.
Life Medical Fitness we can help with these steps. As mentioned above, we
can help you understand the WHY behind your movement inefficiencies, as well as
help you fix them and work through them.
We have distilled the key elements learned from working with thousands of patients. There are specific sets and sequences of exercises you can do to improve your knees, no matter your age or activity level. And surgery is not required.
We are having a Knee Pain Fix Workshop Thursday
8/29 from 5:30-7pm, come join us.