The knee joint feels the pain of the middle child. Stuck in the middle with nowhere to go. The ankle is planted firmly on the ground. Above, the hips carry all the excess weight, but without the strength to carry the heavy load something has to give, and it’s usually the knee.
Any athletic development program starts with a movement screen, an analysis of the athlete’s movement and posture. Overweight executives movement screens show striking similarities.
Almost all of them have tight hamstrings, gluteals, and hip flexors. The effects of day after day of meetings destroy the mobility of the executive. The worst of them can’t even lift their arms above their head of sit down in a chair without compromising the stability of their knees or lower back.
The rigid executive is not ready to lift weights, run, swim or cycle. Movements that are highly repetitive in nature or involve heavy loads are only going to worsen their condition.
This is a real danger because the executive who is doing it alone will see their inability to keep up and think, “I just have to try harder”.
Their solid work ethic drives them to push through often searing hot knee pain.
They ignore their limited range of movement and ignore the pain. Although they may appear to be doing everything right, living the mantra ‘just do it’, what they are actually doing is setting themselves up for further physical problems in the future.
WHAT TO DO?
Lose weight. If you are experiencing knee pain your primary strategy to reduce the force passing through your knee is to lose weight.
Matthew Williams of the Australian Physiotherapy Association explains, “reducing just five to ten per cent of your body weight, together with an exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the knee can result in a 30 to 50 per cent reduction in knee pain.”
No matter how strong you become, nothing will be able to protect you from the grind of excess body weight bearing down on your knee.
After addressing your weight the exercise prescription is a familiar one: Mobility – Stability – Conditioning – Skill.
This four-step process used to create an Executive Athlete is the same process used to rehabilitate an executive with knee pain.
The quadriceps, hip flexors, groin (adductors) and ITB have grown rigid after years of restricted movement and place excessive force on the knee. To overcome the pain you must first overcome the body’s resistance to movement.
The first challenge is the simple act of standing on one leg. Traditional strength training movements are performed with two feet firmly on the ground. Yet when we walk or run each knee must work independently of each other.
Knee stability is first developed on one leg, with zero knee flexion – a straight leg. Progressively a coach will challenge the knee to create stability at 5 degrees knee flexion, 10 degrees, 15 degrees etc.
This is the process that I have used dozen’s of times with great success. Sports doctors who refer clients to me will tell executives ‘looking at your MRI you will not be able to squat with more than 30 degrees flexion without pain, but go see Jonathan and see what you can do.”
Slowly but surely I challenge the stability of the painful knee. Each session creeping just outside the limits of stability set in the previous session. Together we develop a path for knee flexion that relies heavily on the activation of the glutes.
Once this activation pattern becomes automatic you will achieve pain-free movement.
This phase in the program is when the executive begins to add more dynamic movement to their regime. They have the mobility and stability to squat without restriction and have rediscovered the joy of pain-free movement.
This is not a place for heroes. It’s the cowboys that injure themselves or those they are training. An injury is the very definition of backward progress. You need to aim for conditioning that will keep you on the training field not only today but tomorrow as well.
This is the fun part. Now that you have solved your knee pain – what are you going to do differently? My clients have trekked all over the world and climbed the tallest of mountains after rehabilitating their knee. What will you do?
The answer to this question will become the reason why you are able to make a lifelong commitment to exercise, and it’s how you make exercise fun.
Knee pain is curable. Don’t accept that knee pain has simply become part of who you are. Too often I see executives who are rolling the dice with diet and exercise as a last resort to avoid another surgery.
By reducing your body weight and progressively challenging the stability of your knee a pain-free existence can be yours.
If you would like to read more about how deconditioned executives can turn into athletes If you want to learn more about the program that allows deconditioned executives to turn into athletes you can download a free chapter sampler of my book here or on the website.