The body is a strange and wondrous thing. My work is so much fun because no two people are alike and everyone presents a different challenge when it comes to finding relief from chronic pain. One of the more interesting things I see is how many people get away with poor movement patterns and bad posture.
I am working with an older woman with a hip problem whose older husband does everything wrong; eating poorly, sleeping badly, and paying little attention to exercise. More power to him- he is not alone but I am pretty sure he is in the minority.
Today’s post is about a specific issue, hyper-extension of the knees (the painful picture on the left) which can cause a lot of trouble after an unrelated injury- in this case a hamstring pull. Hyper-extension is not something that you learn to do. If your joints allow for it, it is your friend for life.
A huge number of people hyper-extend their knees anytime they are standing or walking. And for whatever reason, get away with it. I have hyper-extended my knees my whole life and until I started running in my twenties, never suffered for it. After giving up running I found ashtanga yoga where I was able to use my ability to overwork my joints to go deeper into poses. It didn’t go well and following three knee surgeries I finally stopped hyper-extending.
The other day someone was asking me about a hamstring injury that didn’t seem to be healing. The woman in question was hyper-extending her knees the whole time we were talking and I kept telling her not to.
I didn’t think of it in the moment (thinking quickly is not my forte) but I soon made the simple leap that her hyper-extension would prevent the hamstring from healing. This person had no history of injury even though she was a major-hyper extender like me, and had gotten through life without it costing her.
But now it was different. Of course, I could be wrong but my takeaway is that without injury you might well get away with a lifestyle of poor movement patterns, but once the slightest issue arises it will be more difficult to heal if you don’t align your body optimally.
It is unfortunate if this is what it takes to bring about change but whatever works. And in truth, I feel lucky that I hurt my knees the way I did– everything is an opportunity. It would have been smart to learn after one surgery but what can you do?