Your knees are the most vulnerable joints in your body. They take all the wear and tear of moving, running, walking, standing when your hips and/or feet are not where they should be. If your knees don’t “track” well, meaning they’re not well lined up over your ankles with your kneecaps pointing forward like the headlights on a car, you’re on your way to damaging the cartilage (meniscus) that pads the bones above and below your knee. And that stuff doesn’t repair. Not good!
The good news? 3 simple actions can make a huge difference in healing old injuries and preventing new ones. And you don’t need a yoga mat, special clothes, extra time—or surgery! So here goes:
- WHAT TO DO: First have a look at your knees in a full-length mirror with your joints “locked.” Do your knees bow in or out (narrower or wider than your ankles)? Do they rotate in or out? That’s your inborn pattern. Now, set your feet parallel, bend your knees, and track them right over your ankles, kneecaps straight ahead. Then slowly straighten the knees without locking. Stand this way all the time. Yes, it’s hard!
WHY IT WORKS: You are now using your muscles to support your knee joints and take the load off your cartilage—which, remember, doesn’t repair. One of my doormen had knee surgery at 40 from standing with locked joints on hard floors all day.
- WHAT TO DO: Practice standing barefoot, lifting and spreading all 10 toes. Press down through the balls of your big toes. Always.
WHY IT WORKS: When you activate your feet you are engaging the muscles in your shins and calves. When worked evenly, these muscles draw the knees back into line.
- WHAT TO DO: Watch your feet as you walk downstairs. Do they turn out? If so, holding the railing for balance and train yourself to walk with your feet parallel. Do the same walking and running.
WHY IT WORKS: When walking downstairs, we turn our feet out for balance, which misaligns the knees. Then our weight, increased by gravity, puts a tough load on the knees. And runners take note: each footfall running or jogging is three times your body weight. That’s a lot of weight pressing down on a crooked joint!