Friday, February 10, 2012

My "Radical" Discovery About How to Beat Knee Pain

Sometimes I imagine what this blog must look like to someone who has stumbled upon it by accident, maybe after a long afternoon chasing hyperlinks, trying to figure out: Why do my knees hurt? How do I fix them?

And occasionally, I like to write something specifically for this first-time visitor whose head is spinning from all the advice and information he/she has been absorbing.

So this visitor arrives at a blog called "Saving My Knees" and wants to know: What does this guy believe in? What makes him different from everyone else out there, with all their theories and ideas and suggestions? What's his magic prescription for healing?

Well, at heart I believe in something so simple it's practically radical:

When you have knee pain, the problem you should focus on -- believe it or not -- is your knees.

Not your quads. Or your hips. Or your glutes.

Not the fact that your hamstrings aren't too flexible, so might they need to be stretched? Not your VMO muscle, which you think may be too weak. Not your iliotibial band, which seems tight.

If you want to heal bad knees, you need a plan that puts those knees front and center.

I'm not sure at what point in history doctors and physical therapists began going down the other path, of trying to heal bad knees by focusing on things that are non-knee -- or things that are knee (slightly mistracking patella) that usually don't matter much.

That philosophy is known as structuralism. While the idea that misalignment is the root of all evil has a superficial, intuitive appeal, I'm skeptical that it applies for most knee pain sufferers. In many cases, I'm convinced, knees go bad just because of injury or good old-fashioned wear and tear or some combination of the two, seasoned with time and inactivity (or foolish activity).

In which case the million-dollar question becomes: How do you treat knees as opposed to the many surrounding muscles that you've been told to stretch and strengthen and massage and whatever?

My experience: Low load, high repetition. Making very, very slow gains -- and building on those. Monitoring your knees very closely. Resigning yourself to what is probably a multi-year healing process.

Here's a little more about how I did it:

What I Did to Save My Knees

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