Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The "Key" to Un-Locking Your Knees

I know most of my readers have heard of Coach Mike Boyle, so there should be no surprise that Coach Boyle had authored an article that put biomechanics and training into perspective. A revolutionary piece, his "Joint By Joint Approach to Training" really influenced many fitness and rehab professionals into how they look at the human body and how each joint segment correlates to movement. Well, since that article hit the horizon of personal training, it made things really click in terms of joint stability and joint mobility. Basically, if you understand the model Coach Boyle laid out in his article, than the formality of movement's affect on the body stays the same.
For instance, the knee is a stable joint. Although it is a "hinge" joint, it remains stable to anchor the two articulating joints that are located above and below it: ankle & hip.
What do I mean by knee stability?
I mean locking the knee.
One of the important muscles of stabilizing the knee is the popliteus.




The popliteus originates from the middle facet of the lateral surface of the lateral femoral condyle and inserts onto the posterior tibia under the tibial condyles, with its tendon running into the knee capsule to the posterior lateral meniscus. as you can see by the illustration, the popliteus crosses the two bones and assists in flexing the leg upon the thigh; when the leg is flexed, it will rotate the tibia inward. When the knee is in full extension; the femur slightly medially rotates on the tibia to lock the knee joint in place. Popliteus is often referred to as the "key" to unlocking the knee since it begins knee flexion by laterally rotating the femur on the tibia.

If the "key" is weak, you may have "give" in the leg when walking. Many prospective clients come to me and complain of their knee "giving" when walking. Upon a quick observation, they all share one common factor: poor lowerbody development. Each client that had complained of "knee give", had not performed squats regularly, did not perform lunges, did not deadlift, nor did they perform step ups. Each had decreased muscle tone and poor flexibility. However, they had another thing in common.
They played alot of golf.




Take a look at the illustration above. See the golfer's left leg? Actually it is your right. See how it is "locked" at the end of the swing? Would you believe the amount of stress the popliteus muscle undergoes during 18 holes of golf? It's not the only muscle responsible for creating a rigid lever for the torso to uncoil the power harnessed during the forward swing, but it is an important "key" in stabilizing the knee to get the shot off.
So back to my clients. Each had under-developed leg muscles--yet were experiencing problems. So I manged to sell my services to 3 of them. I documented the frequency of their "knee give" and created an exercise program for each that included squat, single leg squats, RDLs, and step-ups. Each client performed the exercise program, along with other accessory exercises, for a period of 3 weeks, 3x a week. Result? Only one client mentioned "knee give" after the 3 weeks--and it happened once. The other two clients posted no re-occurrences.
Thoughts to why that is?

Get your leg work in.

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