My last blog post regarding knee arthritis generated some good discussion. We’ve had multiple questions regarding knee mobility, so let’s get right to it.
The knee is a large joint that bends and straightens. As it bends, the shin bone also has to rotate slightly to ensure proper motion and function. Knee pain or injuries can compromise the ability of the bones to move properly. It doesn’t have to be an obvious swelling to compromise the joint’s motion. Pain or muscle guarding can also inhibit bone motion within the joint. The problem becomes when it is less obvious than a swollen joint.
Even after swelling has resolved completely, there can be residual issues. The tissues that surround the joint become compromised and may affect the way the joint moves. Think of it like a car tire. If the wheel isn’t moving properly then the tire can wear unevenly and break down. Unfortunately, most individuals aren’t aware of the potential risks or the need to restore motion. So what can you do?
As counterintuitive as it seems, knee mobility is possible. Most people associate mobility drills with more mobile joints, not with joints as simple as the knee. Well, thankfully simple drills can work wonders on this simple joint.
Some of our favorites are combining knee bending with slight forced shin rotation. This is a motion that facilitates the normal motion of the knee. It can be done kneeling or standing and is an excellent passive drill. A more active version of knee mobilization involves engaging your hamstrings to bend your knee. The premise here is that you can facilitate better motion by engaging the muscle that bends the knee (hamstring) at the end of your available range. This can also be done with kneeling or standing variations. The standing variations may require a bit more care with the setup but are a good alternative for those people who cannot tolerate kneeling.
This blog was meant to introduce the concept of knee mobilizations. It is quite difficult to envision these drills, so be sure to tune into our social media accounts in the following weeks to see some examples. And as always, be sure to reach out with any questions.