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.
For many of our therapists, the work they do is not only professionally rewarding, but personally rewarding as well. Shakeem Fowler of our Darien studio shares how LYMBR has made a difference in the life of someone very important to him.
We all have that one relative who just can’t move like they used to. An uncle who used to be agile as a fox can no longer look to his left or right without turning his whole upper body. Or mom who was an active runner all her life but now needs help getting in and out of the car. There is no denying it, our bodies experience wear and tear as we age.
For me it is my grandmother who used to be that one-woman army in the household. She did everything from trimming the hedges in the spring and shoveling her driveway in the winter, to taking the dogs out for a run at 6 o’clock in the morning. She defied all standards for what people her age are expected to do but it was only a matter of time before father time caught up to her. She developed osteoarthritis and had to undergo surgery for knee replacement in both of her knees. Now tasks that required no second thought or energy, such as picking up a piece of paper off the ground or tying shoelaces, were difficult and strenuous on her body.
She has gone through physical therapy multiple times in attempt to regain her flexibility and strengthen the muscles surrounding her knee to be able to do the things she was able to do prior to having her surgery. She made progress, however, she was nowhere near her flexibility goal of touching her toes, and nowhere near the level of independence she wanted and was used to. On some days she even needed a grappling device to pick things up that had fallen. There was still something missing, until I introduced her to LYMBR.
Prior to beginning her personalized stretching sessions, she was only able to extend her hands just beyond her knees in a standing position. I worked with her 3 times a week for an hour at a time focusing on her entire lower body chain. In our first session, I found that the reason she was having limited flexibility was due to tightness in her hamstrings, calf muscles and her lower back. By week 3 she was able to not only extend past her knees but able to grab on to her ankles. As we progressed with her range of motion we incorporated more stretches targeting muscles that pull the legs back towards the midline of the body, such as the adductor muscles. By doing this we were able to gain mobility in more directions rather than just neutral, front to back, which in turn promoted better balance as well. By week 5 she was able to touch her toes and was on track to regaining her independence.
I will continue to work with her so that she is able to maintain her range of motion and enjoy the independence that comes with her acquired flexibility.
We don’t know how valuable the elasticity of our muscles is in so many day-to-day activities until we lose mobility and are faced with that lingering thought, “I should have taken better care of myself.” Like so many people, we tend to think that once we lose flexibility in our joints, that range of motion is gone forever. Here at LYMBR we challenge that misconception and evoke a new quality of life through active engagement of the mind and body through safe and efficient personalized stretching.
Written by Shakeem Fowler. Shakeem is a Stretch Therapist in our Darien Studio.
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.