Hello beautiful friends.
I hope this finds you well and enjoying your day today.
Today I'm sharing one of the most profound practices for the health of your knees and for your entire body alignment and function. I've written extensively on this in the Karana Posture book but for today's bite size mouthful, I'll focus on just two aspects of this practice, one local to the knee and the other holistic.
"The greatest factor that maintains the health and function of our knees lies in a little known truth: the knees are designed to be unlocked in standing." Karakrista
The 'bees knees' is the simple practice of standing with the knees unlocked. There are myriad reasons why this is beneficial for the knees and completely natural, the way we're designed to be. Here's just two of those reasons: The Knee Joint You're no doubt all aware of the strong knee cartilages - the menisci. And you probably know enough to realise that you'd like to keep yours intact. Yes? When we lock the knees, the menisci are at risk. A locked knee places the joint in what's called a "close-packed" position which exerts maximum weight-bearing pressure on the menisci and joint surface cartilage. Cartilage is an avascular structure, which means it's devoid of blood supply. It receives it's nourishment in a sponge-like way, from the joint fluids. Cartilage needs to 'breath' and take in it's fluid 'food' by being rhythmically compressed and relieved of weight-bearing. Hence the message, if you have arthritis - MOVE. Standing with your knees locked in a rigid state, you're depriving your menisci of nourishment and breaking them down just as effectively at the same time. For the above reasons and many more which I'll discuss in future blogs, I highly recommend that you don't stand on either one or both legs with the knees locked. In fact, don't ever just stand on one leg unless you're intentionally practicing balance poses and when you do, ensure you have a subtle bend in your knee.
Synergistic Co-Contraction No muscle works alone. The body is like an orchestra and standing is a symphony of multiple muscles at play to steady ourselves in space every moment. When we stand in postural alignment with our knees soft, the body works as a unified whole and no one muscle or joint is doing more than it's share. When the knees are locked we move into a state of what's known as "strutting" or "propping".
When we prop, we block the natural symphony of muscular co-contraction and instead create a state of balance through rigidity.
In a rigid, propped state some muscles switch off, some work overtime and some joints are loaded a lot more than others. The more imbalanced we are, the less our deep postural muscles can work effectively. With the deep muscles out of action, we develop more tension in our superficial muscles. Say hello to your 'knots' ... Or bend your knees, let the orchestra play and say goodbye to your painful, tight muscles. The Dynamic Knee Arc So, you might ask, just how do I stand with my knees bent? Here's how: There's a magical arc of movement in the knees that's designed for balance and to maintain us in a state of dynamic equilibrium. It occurs between a locked knee and squatting. I call this arc, the "Dynamic Knee Arc". Try this out now as you read this:
Stand with your feet apart and your knees locked. Then slowly start to bend your knees. As you bend your knees, notice when you start to lose height. Stop here. Slowly return your knees to an almost locked position. Then back to that point of bend where you start to lose height. Repeat this subtle see-sawing action. This is your Dynamic Knee Arc*
Once you've unlocked your knees, look down. Are your knees aligned over your middle toes? You may need to turn your hips and thighs out a little to 'track' your knees directly over your ankles and the central line of your feet. If you need to do this, notice what happens to the arches of your feet... And don't worry if you feel you're becoming shorter. It's only temporary. Once your body starts to fall into greater central alignment your spine will grow and your height will be restored. If you want to find out how and more, book a Physio appointment today.
And if you still need convincing that posture is a profound way to improve the health of your body go to the Posture page here for more information.
Until next time, have a great week bobbing your way through your days. JOY,
* Note: if you have some degree of degeneration or arthritis in your knees, often the first thing to go is your full knee extension and you may lose your dynamic 'arc'. As soon as you bend your knees you may find yourself losing height. In this case remain standing with your knees just off the locked position in a subtle bend.