The modern world makes us sit a lot. It also nurtures our body tissues with preservatives, toxins and additives. We lack normal everyday functional moving like getting up the stairs, gardening, walking, running, playing, climbing and many other things we used to do before elevators, computers and apartments came to dominate our lifestyles alongside stiff deadlines and stress.
As a result, our tissues surrounding the knees and every other joint in the body lack basic full range movements, oxygen, fluids and nutrients. These are the real causes of joint disabilities today. We don’t get pain because of arthritis, osteoporosis, tendinitis and over using our joints. Those are just symptoms.
Our bodies are developed to endure strong forces. For instance, the patella tendon is made to be so strong that a motorcycle could be hanged from the roof attached to the tendon (a healthy patella tendon of course) without rupturing it. Thoughts such as; I have walked or exercised too much shouldn’t therefore be in our heads.
The problem is, we fill our bodies with bad fuel which in turn causes our tissues to get inflamed which is signaled to us as pain and swelling. In worst case scenarios, this “hidden” inflammation suffocated with anti-inflammatories and pain medications is endured for several months and then we eventually rupture a tendon or break a bone. You simply can’t break healthy, fluid and nutrient-full tendons.
Ok, enough with the preaching but the real message here is that we have to look at wholeness when rehabilitating the knee or any other joint or health issue troubling our bodies. You should look beyond the actual joint and its symptoms. This must be understood before long term results can be experienced with the rehabilitation process especially with chronic knee problems.
Every health issue and rehabilitation has to do with nutrition and the mental state of mind. Mechanical rehabilitation, joint mobilizations and other physiotherapy methods play less than 40% part of the whole healing process. Let’s take a closer look at how to start rehabilitating the knee joint.
1.) Lubricating the body
The first thing you should do is start “lubricating” the body from the inside. This is done by drinking lots of pure water without bubbles. You can boost the effects and taste by squeezing a bit of lime or lemon in your water. The recommended minimum water intake daily can be calculated by using the formulas below:
Bodyweight (kg) X 0.033 = is the average amount in liters / day
Bodyweight (lbs.) X 0.064 = is the average amount in cups / day
2.) Essential mineral intake
The second step is boosting your body’s metabolism. You can do this by adding real natural nutrients to the diet. Your main focus should be balancing the body’s mineral salts. The balance is achieved by optimizing the two main minerals which are sodium and potassium.
Sodium is the bad stuff that we get from almost every refined product out there, especially fast foods and table salt. You should focus on reducing the intake of sodium rich products and switching the normal table salt to healthier (less sodium containing) products like unrefined mountain or sea salt.
Potassium is found mainly in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The recommended daily minimum potassium intake for a healthy person is 4,800mg which equals 7 cups of fresh produce (1, 2). Therefore, those seven portions per day are a must especially if you are suffering from joint inflammation or pain.
However, you should increase your fresh produce intake gradually in order to avoid strong metabolic reactions in your body. Expect to increase your bathroom visits. Flu is also a common side effect of the body’s natural cleansing responses. Smoothies are an easy way of boosting the body with a lot of nutrients. You can find basic metabolism blasting recipes from our site at Kikulife.
3.) Optimizing joint range of motion
Take a walk and move your joints lightly for 10 to 20 minutes to get the blood and oxygen flowing in your joints, ligaments and muscles. Take the exercise mattress and put it on your living room floor. Put some light music and begin to set your mind for physical and mental relaxation.
Start from the main muscle controlling the knee; the quadriceps (front thigh) muscle. Begin to stretch it lightly for 20 seconds while breathing deeply and increasing the stretch by every breath.
When you feel and identify the exact painful point i.e. what is limiting the stretch and movement, stop the stretch and begin to massage that point quite roughly with your thumbs for 1-2 minutes and then stretch again. Repeat this process 3-5 times until you notice a clear increase in the joint’s range of motion.
Do the same thing for the back thighs (hamstring muscles), buttocks (gluteal muscles), calf muscles (gastrochnemius muscles) and the shin area (tibialis anterior). Use the internet to find the proper stretches for these muscles.
4.) Strengthening the joint
According to scientific studies, you need to exercise two times per week for at least six weeks to gain strength for supporting your body and joints (3). So, choose one of the following functional knee strengthening exercises and aim for 30 to 40 repetitions per session. You can make your own sets. Just focus on making your muscles tired. You will have achieved your goal if you have a hard time controlling your walking after exercise sessions.
- Getting up from a chair (with weights on your hands if needed)
- Getting up the stairs (with weights if needed)
- Stepping on a chair or a box (the high the chair/box is, the more you need to work)
* Remember to keep your foot, ankle, knee and hip in a straight line in order to avoid the inward or outward twisting of the knee which is known to cause joint stress and pain.
This is the last and one of the most essential parts of the rehabilitation process. DO NOT BE STATIC. If you need to sit, stand or stay in a static position in your work or at home, get up and move at least every 30 minutes. If not, the tissues lack oxygen and pressure changes leading to malnutrition, overstress, pain and problems.
So, put a reminder on your smart phone and move every 30 minutes. Just 5 minutes is enough. A couple of squats or getting up from the chair exercises will get the circulation going on again and then you can endure the static positions for another 30 minutes.
Ps. remember to check out our great New Year’s fitness Challenge!
Teijo Vienola has a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy and he is specialized in occupational- and musculoskeletal pt. He is also nutritional consultant and writer for Kikulife.
More information about functional health can be found from Kikulife’s website. In addition, you can download a general guide towards energetic and pain-free life from the top of our site.