ALL IN THE FAMILY
“I have bad knees.” How many times have you heard someone say that about knee pain? Many times people get diagnosed with Iliotibial band syndrome, runner’s knee, or just feel knee pain or pulling in certain movements and blame the poor little knee.
However, most times the “bad knee” is really just a victim. It’s kind of like child in a family that is prone to dysfunction. Like a real child, its nature is to get out of line and it’s the parents’ job to discipline it. The gluteus medius muscle, the upper and outer part of the glute, has a job to keep the knee in line during movements, like a good father. Unfortunately, many of us have a gluteus medius that starts to act more like a couch potato. This muscle is weak even in many athletes. So mom kicks in to keep her child in line. The tensor fasciae latae, TFL muscle, is a small muscle located toward the top of your front jeans pocket, that starts to discipline her child. Mom can’t really handle the workload though, she gets totally stressed! As a result, the Iliotibial band or IT band, connecting the hip and knee on the outside of the thigh, tugs on knee like a perpetually annoyed big brother, and the poor little knee cries like a baby. The fact is, Dad (glute medius) needs to be strong and discipline everyday and Mom (TFL) needs a spa day…often.
MAKE “DAD” WORK: GLUTE MEDIUS STRENGTH
* Lie on your side, press your thumb firmly in the glute medius (pictured above, the part that wants to muffin out of jeans)
* Keeping your legs relaxed, point the top leg toe down and place it behind the heel, lift the leg behind the other while feeling for the glute med to fire up, linger up top for 2 counts and bring leg down for 5 slowww counts
* When you know you’ve activated the glute med, aim for 30 REPS
“MOM’S” SPA DAY: STRETCH AND RELAX HIP FLEXORS
* Kneel on padding if your knee is too sensitive, line up feet with knees
* Engage abs, tuck tailbone forward hold for 30 seconds
* Maintaining that engagement and posture, push hips forward and hold for 30 seconds
* Reach over lifting one side of the rib cage hold for 30 seconds, breathing deep all the while
* Place TFL right on a foam roller for gentle relaxation and linger here breathing deeply, you don’t have to roll
* For better targeting use a lacrosse ball, or tennis ball
These stretches will help the whole hip flexor area, and help give that stressed out mom a break. The glute med will become a more responsible dad, and result in happy kids and better family harmony.
The TFL muscle is really small and hard to target. So if knee pain is a problem for you, I recommend really getting acquainted with it. You can stretch the area more often by taking longer strides, while lying on your stomach in bed, watch videos and find what works best for you. If your tempted to foam roll the IT band to release pressure, René’s Tip: go slow and don’t aggravate what feels inflamed, don’t indiscriminately roll your leg out like punishing a bad piece of pizza dough. Rolling too hard and too much is dangerous, but a little TLC is fine. So to combat knee pain try to remember “Happy wife, happy life!”