Knee Issues and the Power of Self-Care

We all know someone who has had knee surgery or a knee replacement, or who was forced to live a more sedentary lifestyle because of knee issues. This person might even be you. You are not alone. In fact, knee pain is the second most common type of chronic pain. A third of all Americans report experiencing knee pain at some time or another. And roughly 3 million women and 1.7 million men are living with total knee replacements.

Perhaps more than any other area of the body, knee issues generate not just feelings of pain but feelings of worry – feelings of being broken or fragile, of falling apart and facing an inevitable decline.

What if you could instead focus on helping your body heal and taking charge of your health?

When I injured my knee in 1991, I was told I’d need surgery to fix my meniscus. I said not so fast and instead looked to a variety of self-care techniques, including AI Stretch. Long story short, I opted out of surgery, kept my meniscus and got myself out of pain, without drugs or surgery, and today continue to be active and pain-free.

If you’ve already had surgery or even a knee replacement, that doesn’t mean the self-care boat has sailed for you. In fact, I’d even say it’s an invitation for you to be a little extra diligent in your self-care activities. Left unattended, surgery can cause stuck stress, imbalances in your posture, compensation, and pain in all new areas of your body to deal with.

One of the most significant principles of MELT comes from my own work as a manual therapist –

we call it “Indirect Before Direct.” Simply put, your knee is not the criminal – it’s the victim. That means that whether you have knee issues, or are looking to avoid them, it’s important to work on the hydration of the connective tissue in your entire lower body.

Connective tissue is like a sponge. Compressing this tissue for long periods of time creates dehydration. When do you compress the back of your legs for a long time? That’s right – when you sit. Sitting acts like a dam that keeps the fluid from flowing around your knee joint. To restore this tissue, you need to stimulate it with brief compression and friction that works the fluid back into the “sponge.”

The Back of Thigh Shear is one of my favorite moves in the Lower Body Compression Sequence. Try this simple MELT Move to prevent and treat a key cause of knee pain.

  • Place the MELT Soft Roller under your upper thighs. Extend your legs so that they’re relaxed and straight. Slowly drag your legs together and apart like jumping jacks to Shear the back of the thighs 4-5 times.
  • Try this one leg at a time: Bend one leg and relax it on the roller, and then drag the other leg in and out 4-5 times. Repeat on the other thigh. Then pause and let the tissues adapt.
  • Move the roller halfway down your thighs and repeat the techniques. Again, pause and let the tissues adapt.
  • Move the roller just above your knees and repeat. (Remember: You’re never going to MELT the spaces, so keep the roller out of your knee joint!) Once again, pause and let the tissues adapt.

The Back of Thigh Shear is a simple move that is great for counteracting the dehydration of the back of the leg that can lead to knee pain.

If you’ve got knee issues, you’re going to want to check out the MELT for Knees Map on MELT On Demand. This map features the Lower Body Compression Sequence, Seated Compression moves, and the Lower Body Length Sequence. Subscribe to MELT On Demand and start watching my MELT for Knees Map instantly.

Sue’s Insider Tip

Another thing you can do to protect your knees is work on the stability of your hips. Once you’ve spent time hydrating your lower body, I recommend moving on to the Lower Body Stability Sequence on MELT On Demand. Increasing the stability of your hip girdle will significantly reduce your risk of knee pain and injuries.