When our muscles are tight or weak, you know what suffers? Our joints.
That’s right, the health of the connective tissues and tendons that keep our bones together depends on whether we’re over- or under-using our muscles. Weak muscles tamp down blood flow to the joints, while tight muscles prevent them from reaching their full range of motion and therefore causing undue stress. It’s all connected, people.
One common problem area is the knees. Approximately 25 percent of adults suffer from chronic knee pain. Ouch!
To take care of your knees, you need to take care of the muscles that attach to the joint. Which is why East River Pilates instructor Brian Spencer has a new Good Stretch routine focused on the “muscles that tend to cause knee pain.” Namely: Oh, just basically your whole lower body. “If it surrounds the knee, it’s a good idea to try and release it,” Spencer says.
Spencer starts with a deep calf massage. In a hands and knees position, you’ll use the front of your knee of one leg to massage the calf of the other leg. This self-massage allows you to modify how much pressure you’re digging into those muscles.
Next, a series of lunges will let you open up your hips and your quads, moving through the range of motion that feels right for you with some “healthy knee bends.” Lying down on the floor, some hamstring and IT band stretches will help you get the backs and sides of your legs, which will support your knees from 360 degrees.
“As always with stretches, if you’re like, Oh, this is really deep, it means you should probably do it more,” Spencer says.