You may feel that life did not bless you with the best knees. Whether you feel discomfort during a yoga pose, a run, or just moving about day to day – there is chance that a muscle a little higher up is the culprit.
The Gluteus Maximus and commonly known as your glute, is the biggest muscle in our body. This muscle helps to cushion us when we fall, externally rotate our legs, and propel us as we walk. This muscle can also be the cause of your knee pain. The Gluteus Maximus (one of three glute muscles) attaches to the top of your hip bone, right on the side. The muscle doesn’t stop there, it becomes a tendon and continues down to the outside of the knee. If this muscle does not have adequate flexibility, it affects the entire chain down the leg to your knee. So if someone favors one leg, juts their hip out when they stand, or habitually crosses their legs, they could develop a knee issue. We also see problems with athletes such as runners and with people that spend long hours sitting at their desks.
Working on the Glute Max and surrounding muscles releases muscular tension that can be influencing the hips and knees. Releasing this tension can give you the best chance to hold a longer pose, run a little farther, or move more comfortably through your day.
The idea that tight muscles perform better is a common misconception.
In order for muscles to perform at their best and protect a joint, they must not only be strong, they must be flexible. It doesn’t matter how strong your muscles are around a joint, if they lack flexibility you risk imbalance and injury.
A strong muscle has the ability to lengthen and shorten at an adequate rate while acclimating to the forces placed on it. When the muscle is tight, it lacks the ability to fire properly due to poor adjustments to tensions being placed on it. When a muscle fires incorrectly, it causes a chain reaction throughout the entire body, throwing off your balance, posture and functional ability.
When a muscle lacks flexibility, it also restricts your joint’s range of motion, decreasing mobility, and creating muscular imbalances around that joint. In all sports and activities, proper form is imperative for maximum results and to prevent injury. Proper form can only be achieved if all the muscles that are involved in the movement are healthy and flexible and able to meet the demands being placed on them.
A tennis player came to see us complaining of recurring elbow bursitis. After evaluation, we found that her bursitis was a result of tight muscles surrounding her elbow joint. This tightness caused a friction force to be applied to the bursa, inflaming it. We stretched the muscles that surround her shoulder and elbow in order to increase blood flow and decrease pressure in the joint. After two sessions with our stretch therapist, the client reported that her pain was 100% relieved. Now that her elbow joint is more mobile, and the muscles are able to fire properly, she is able to play multiple sets without the added stress on her bursa.
Continued sessions with us have helped her to decrease tension forces in her elbow, increase mobility, enhance her posture and improve her tennis form and performance. She is now able to play longer and stronger without pain. Regular stretching sessions have taken her game to another level.
The golf swing is one of the most complex and beautiful motions in all sports. It utilizes the entire kinetic chain to transfer forces from your feet through your hips and back, to your shoulders and hands. The spiraling golf swing is truly a full body movement. We have clients come in sharing that golf is doing a number on their body – making them feel older than they are, and by the end of the season they are really hurting. Assisted stretching can make a big difference, as long as each client is evaluated for their individual needs.
If we look at common ailments that sideline golfers we see overuse and low back issues topping the list. Overuse injuries are just what the name indicates, and often easily preventable. Overusing an area, simply put, is performing motion, stopping, and performing the action again and again. The stopping and resuming occurs between shots, between holes, between rounds and between days. Every time a muscle gets warm, which occurs during frequent use, it eventually cools down. During the cool down phase the muscle contracts. Without any activity to restore length muscles will get incrementally shorter. Some players may feel discomfort after their first round while other players can go weeks even months before feeling something. Including stretching to keep you muscles long and your nerves relaxed at any time is helpful to prevent injuries.
Every part of the body is involved in a golf swing, yet not everyone swings the clubs or hits the ball the same. Because everyone is different there are specific stretches for each person. The differences in swings cause the body to brace and store impact forces differently for each of us.
Therefore, the entire body should be considered and considered on an individual basis. We see two very common areas that clients see relief from; stretching the hip flexors and adductors which greatly increase the golfer’s drive, and stretching the low back which relieves tightness and pain. These finer details are what a stretch therapist highlights for you to keep you out on the course, competing in tournaments, and getting the most out of your season.
Iliotibial- Band syndrome, is otherwise known as IT Band Syndrome and ITBS. Make no mistake ITBS is not BS! This will stop a runner in their tracks or hinder you from using the stairs. ITBS is one the most common overuse injuries afflicting up to 12 percent of runners, both beginners and elite. ITBS is most commonly observed as throbbing pain on the side of your knee and can be debilitating if not treated properly.
IT-band Syndrome can originate in many ways. One area that can influence this issue has to do higher up the leg with a muscle called the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL). The TFL becomes the IT band and goes down the leg to connect on the outside of the knee and can rub against the bone. When the TFL muscle gets too tight it can cause compensations, increasing the tension area in the knee leading to inflammation and pain. The pain can be so severe it and can slow down even the most seasoned runners.
Help keep IT Band syndrome off your radar by making the right stretches part of your routine! It is important to stretch the individual muscles around the lower body including the glutes, hamstrings, and the abductors – even low back muscles. Keeping these often-used areas flexible will help prevent ITBS and keep you running pain free!
Sitting is the new bad word when in reality it’s more than just sitting, the problem is also how long we sit and how unprepared our body is. We tend to stay seated for long periods of time which can change muscular tension and cause that tension to accumulate in certain areas. When these unprepared areas are held in one positions for long, continuous hours such as being seated at your desk, your body starts to adapt toward that position causing one to experience reduced range of motion, stiffness and even pain.
When we sit, the back side of the hip gets longer while the front side gets shorter, just as your elbow has one side that shortens and once side that lengthens when it bends. The muscle that gets talked about most often with the topic of sitting is the hamstring, more specifically the hamstring’s upper attachment to the pelvic bone. But it is also important to note that when you sit, generally that upper hamstring / pelvis attachment is actually longer while the hamstring’s other attachment is shorter. If you’re wondering where the other attachment is located, just put you hand behind your bent knee and you’ll be in the right area. The real culprit to hamstring “tightness” due to sitting is the lower hamstring portion, the portion that connects to the back of your knee. The images below show a common protocol to address this issue. Think about this – when standing, a straight leg extends behind the body about 15 degrees, while a knee bends 150-170 degrees. That’s a big range of motion difference and potential.
In short, the area that moves the most, in this case the area where the lower hamstring attaches to the knee, has the most to lose or the most to gain! If you leave out this important connection in your body, you will have a hard time finding true relief from those hours of sitting.