We often take our health for granted and ignore early warning signs. The knee is no exception. When you keep your knees healthy allows us to easily get up and down from the floor, maintain balance on uneven surfaces and walk for long distances without discomfort. Even occasional knee pain should be an early warning sign to take heed and pay attention to your knees.
A healthy knee has four important components:
There are many muscles surrounding the knee but the most important for knee health are the quadriceps muscles (or quads). The quadriceps are four distinct muscles that start at the top of the leg or hip and end right below the knee. Balancing strength across all four muscles is important. The quad running down the inside part of the leg is frequently neglected and can cause problems with proper tracking of the knee cap. All four muscles converge to form a common patella tendon that attaches to the kneecap (or patella) and then onto the front of the lower leg bone. If this tendon ruptures, surgery is required immediately.
Good strength in the quadriceps muscle stabilizes the knee joint against injury. There are two important ligaments inside the knee joint (anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments) and two on the outside of the joint (medial and lateral collateral ligaments). Strong quads help to protect these important ligaments against sprains, tears and rupture. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), in particular, is vital to good knee function and frequently requires surgical repair if ruptured.
The patella tendon helps to keep the kneecap tracking correctly in its’ groove as we bend and straighten the leg. The kneecap is vulnerable to wear and tear injuries and is a common source of knee pain. The fragile cartilage on the back of the kneecap can be worn down if it rubs rather than slides across bone. These patello-femoral syndromes, including chondromalacia, can be quite painful when walking, running or using stairs. Strengthening the quads as a whole with particular attention to balancing the strength of the medial and lateral quads will help track the patella appropriately.
The knee primarily flexes, extends and rotates. We need about 135 degrees of flexion to accomplish activities of daily living with ease. Less than 120 degrees of flexion makes it difficult to get up and down off the floor, and less than 100 degrees of flexion makes walking stairs or getting in and out of a car very taxing. Lack of full extension of the leg impairs walking often creating a limp and makes it difficult to lie face down for long periods of time. Too much rotation or inability to control rotation with sudden forces (like tripping) can cause injury to important joint ligaments.
Proprioception is the ability to figure out where your knee is in space without visual feedback. Good proprioception is dependent on adequate neural connections between the knee and brain. This is critically important for maintaining balance. Endurance is the ability to maintain muscular strength over a prolonged period of time since our knees are one of the most active joints in our body.
In our Studio, we build quad strength and endurance in multiple ways. Footwork on the reformer in a variety of leg positions helps to balance strength in all four quads, and jump board is a great way to build quad endurance. Safe knee stretches within an appropriate range of motion can be easily achieved using Pilates equipment and props. Balance work and single legwork build proprioceptive feedback.
Keep your knees healthy and pain free!
Stephanie’s class is well-paced, challenging yet welcoming for first timers and those who are more experienced. She offers seamless coaching throughout and her enthusiasm and energy is inspirational.
I love the classes and instructors at SDK Pilates! Stephanie, the owner, has been a tremendous help to me with understanding challenges I face with a bad hip. Her expertise and medical background have helped me select exercises that are appropriate for me and I have learned there are still plenty of things that I can do to strengthen my body! At other places, I sometimes overdid my workouts (and hurt myself) – SDK’s instructors have helped me increase my flexibility and strengthen my body in a s…
SDK Pilates is great! So far I’ve taken Pilates classes with Steph and Nancy, and I’m looking forward to Yoga with Mark. Currently working on core strengthening, shoulder mechanics, overall conditioning, and my golf game.
“SDK Pilates’ yoga instructors are beyond wonderful and very reliable. Our community and hospital staff truly enjoy the classes and we are extremely thankful for their partnership with us.”
SDK Pilates is wonderful! I have been taking classes from Stephanie for a number of years and thoroughly enjoy both her Pilates and therapeutic yoga sessions. Her training as a doctor enables her to work around physical limitations and injuries and strengthen weaknesses. She has helped me immensely with chronic shoulder issues. The fun nature of the classes, the camaraderie of the attendees and the great workout make SDK classes my favorite way to exercise!
“Sandi and Elaine have the ability to deliver a class that meets the needs of all attendees in the class, even when there is different levels of experience. They have a great manner of presenting poses and ensure good form for a safe and enjoyable Yoga class.”
Pilates has been a wonderful experience both physically and mentally – it relieves stress and gets your body in a “can do” spirit to stretch and feel good. The instructors are the best and the people I’ve met in class are fun to be with. Friendships develop. I will do this forever!
My experience with SDK Pilates has been outstanding. All of the instructors have been knowledgeable and welcoming. All levels of fitness and capabilities are embraced, addressed and challenged. Individual needs are seamlessly met with in the class. Every class is different and I always walk out feeling better than when I walked in. I take Pilates twice a week and wish I could take it every day!
I have taken yoga and Pilates classes from Stephanie for many years, and I can say that she is terrific. Her background in physical medicine and rehab makes her uniquely qualified to instruct and coach with a focus in balanced strengthening, proper alignment, and prevention of injury. I enjoy the low key environment at the studio, and have made many friends in her classes.
“Sandi and Elaine have the ability to deliver a class that meets the needs of all attendees in the class, even when there is different levels of experience.They have a great manner of presenting poses and ensure good form for a safe and enjoyable Yoga class.”