In America, roughly 1in 3 people suffer from knee pain nationwide. According to Classic Rehabilitation, Inc, 100 million Americans suffer from knee pain and it is the second most common chronic pain. There are 600,000 knees replaced annually, according to the April 15, 2020, Healthline article. It looks like it is only going to get worse. This article in Science Direct says knee replacements are predicted to rise 143% in 2050 from 2012. That means in 2012 we did 429 procedures per 100,000 people and by 2050 it is predicted to rise to 725 procedures per 100,000 people. The common answer for replacing knees is osteoarthritis, most people will tell you they were bone on bone. The question we should be asking is “what led to osteoarthritis in the first place?”
The Origin of Knee Pain
Most of our health care education is built around you are having a problem. Once we see a problem, then we have a solution to fix it. We should be learning how to prevent you from getting osteoarthritis in the first place. The two top causes of knee pain are being overweight followed by improper technique while doing our activities. These activities can be as simple as walking or bending up and down working around your house.
The mechanics of the knee are not well understood, which is surprising. Want proof? Look at how most people stretch their calves. Most of you have been taught by trainers and physical therapists to stretch your calves by leaning against a wall, using a slant board, dropping your heel off a step, 2×4, or curb. None of those will ever stretch your four calf muscles.
The four major calf muscles run from just above your knee down to the arch of your foot. These four muscles are responsible for vertical, lateral, and rotational movement of the foot and the knee. When the calf muscles are hard and tight, any twisting motion will increase the torque of the knee too much and can lead to damage later. In the calf area there are two bones that run from the ankle to the knee and connect to the larger thigh bone. There are muscles in-between these two bones that allow you to twist, Again, when your calves are hard and tight, the bones cannot move properly and can lead to damage.
Added Weight to Your Problem
When you add in being overweight to obese, this is a recipe for bigger problems later in life. Your skeletal system is only designed to carry so much weight. Once you exceed that basic requirement, the pressure on all joints becomes greater, but the knees are vulnerable. Think of a pickup truck. The warranty on the truck says if you exceed the payload limits and damage the axles, your warranty is voided. Your knees are your axles. On top of that, the more you weigh, the more the muscles need to work for basic movement, which will make them hard and tight placing more torque on the knees.
Even replacing your knees will not stop all the problems. The surgery merely replaces the damaged bones. If your muscles are hard and stiff going into the surgery, they will remain hard and stiff coming out. You are stiff applying the pressure on the new joint just like you did on the old joint.
Post-surgical rehab is required and does an excellent job in getting you back on your feet and building back your strength. The rest of the recovery is up to you and we are rarely instructed on how to do this most successfully.
Stretching for Full Recovery
Learning how to stretch your calves and soften the muscles in the calves, feet, and thighs will go a long way in getting you back to full recovery, but it takes work. Think of your dog or cat, they stretch several times a day, just a few minutes at a time. You should do the same, in fact. When your pet stretches, so should you!
When stretching, never hold the stretch for more than 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. The repetition is teaching your brain that the movement is safe and won’t cause pain. Take it slow and breathe through the stretch. This is not about forcing the stretch as we have been for years, but allowing the brain to let go emotionally, so you can let go physically.
You can see my video of the Calf Stretch here. All you need is a yoga strap or rope, and you can sit on the floor with your back and hips against a wall. If you cannot sit on the floor, sit in a hard-backed chair and place one leg on an ottoman. Be sure to do both legs and do not do these in a recliner!!! Do these every day, each morning and evening.
Use your hands to gently press while looking for sore spots on your feet, calves, and thighs. When you find one, breathe out and allow the brain to relax and release the muscle.
You can learn more at The Muscle Repair Shop Videos.
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About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese, and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop Founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.