Knee Pain ~ The Importance of Flexibility

This article will target the physical and metaphysical causes of knee pain as you age and why susceptibility and flexibility are related.

‘Thus, flexibility, as displayed by water, is a sign of life. Rigidity, its opposite, is an indicator of death.’ ~ Anthony Lawlor

Pain in the knee is perhaps one of the most frequent musculoskeletal problems on the planet. Without healthy knees we are unable to walk or bear weight. We are unable to use our legs, period. The flexibility that the knee provides is what enables us to do every known physical activity to man.

The knee joint is a complex and beautiful thing. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage support the knee in order for it to bend and flex properly and with ease and fluidity.

Just about anything in the knee joint or surrounding the knee that is overused or injured will cause knee pain. Injuries to the muscles and/or tendons surrounding the knee, the ligaments supporting the knee and the meniscus, or the cushiony cartilage inside the knee are all causes of knee pain.

Overuse and Osteoarthritis

When the cartilage or the meniscus of the knee is overused or improperly used, osteoarthritis can develop. The meniscus is the cartilaginous cushion between the femur, the bone of the thigh, and the tibia, or the bone of the lower leg. Without this cushion, to provide the glide needed during the bending of the knee, the bones would rub against one another. This is the cause of arthritis knee pain.

Wear and tear on the knee cartilage, as a result of minor injuries, unrecognized overuse or repeated twisting motions of the knee causes the slow degradation and/or tearing of the meniscus. When this happens, the bones on either side of the cartilage develop small stress fractures as they rub together.

Then these fractured bones try to heal themselves, by creating more bone. Slowly, the additional bone mass creates more problems with stiffness of the knee, when it tries to bend with bone rubbing on bone. This condition is known as osteoarthritis, a common condition of age. Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of chronic arthritis knee pain. Can you say knee replacement?

According to Dr. Brian Peck, rheumatologist, most baby boomers deny their knee pain. They often say, "It's just a trick knee doc!" He says that they get used to their knee symptoms and often it becomes their new normal. As they subconsciously baby and protect their knees, the muscles around the knees get even weaker and smaller, hastening the development of osteoarthritis and arthritis knee pain!

The 'trick knee' is another way of saying that their knees give out or buckle, they have knee popping or they have difficulty bending down to do tasks such as putting on their socks. Does this describe you? If it does, you should really consider getting your 'trick knee' checked out.

How to Prevent a Knee Injury and/or Knee Pain

The single most important thing to prevent knee pain and osteoarthritis as you age is to keep a normal, healthy weight. The added stress of too much weight on the knee joint is killer to the wear and tear on the knees.

The second important way to prevent knee pain is to do non-repetitive, low impact physical activity. If you walk a lot, add some biking or swimming into the mix. If you expect to run your entire life and don’t cross train, expect knee pain. Mix up weight training with aerobic exercise as well. Switch activities to prevent the wear and tear on your knees.

If you strengthen the muscles of the legs, you can also prevent knee injuries and knee pain. This is very important as you age. Keeping the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles strong will aid in preventing knee injuries and will keep you more functional for all the activities of life that you enjoy.

Stay motivated for fitness for your age level. Do not push too hard, but listen to your body and if your knees start to talk to you, throttle your intensity back a notch. This will literally save your knees as you age.

Thirdly, using proper body mechanics will help protect your knees. If you twist at the leg/knee during your movements, especially when lifting heavy weights, you are setting yourself up for a knee injury.

Fourth: Do everything in your power to avoid injuries to the knees and legs. Wear protective equipment, like knee pads, if your sport calls for it. Consider changing to less aggressive sports as you age. Sports that involve jumping, sprinting and quick movements are stressful to the knees.

Give up the weekend warrior approach. You are not a soccer star on one Sunday a month. Slowly condition yourself to a new activity or sport, or one you haven’t played since high school.

And finally, keep your stress under control, eat well and sleep well.

Also see the next section, on why you may be susceptible to knee pain and/or a knee injury from the emotional and metaphysical perspective. Awareness, as you shall see, brings healing of all ills.

The Metaphysical Cause of Knee Pain

Your knees represent your ability to bend and flow with life. Your knees are the power center of your legs. Healthy knees are flexible knees that bend easily. Your knees are reflective of your flexibility in your life. The importance of flexibility in all things cannot be understated.

If you are a rigid and non-bending person, so shall be your knees. If you lock your knees, you cannot be poised for action or movement that will take you in the direction that you need to go.

The same is true for life. You need to stay poised and ready for anything that comes your way. If you stay mentally locked into one pattern of behavior or thinking, just like the locked-knee position, you can be easily knocked over! (Or knocked out of the way!)

However, if you give in easily and have weak knees, that isn’t good either. It is finding the balance, the yin-yang of all things.

Your knees are a powerful metaphor that manifests your reality if you are unaware. The metaphors surrounding the knee that express our inner truth, through the Body Window, are:

"On bended knee" – This represents begging for forgiveness or pleading for something. You can make it even more dramatic, if you “fall on bended knee.” Since most of us have a hard time asking for forgiveness, maybe we ought to practice kneeling down and asking for forgiveness of God/the Universe and to our closest relationships. It might be interesting to see what happens!

"Get down on your knees!" or "On your knees!" – This is a command to force someone into submission, isn’t it? Can you just picture a powerful figure with a switch to the back of your knees, as he/she states this command? Makes you want to shudder. Beware if you have a forceful person in your life – your tendency will be to physically lock your knees in resistance.

"Knee-jerk reaction" – This is a quick reaction you make without thinking. It comes from the reflex of the knee when you strike just below the kneecap at the patellar tendon, to elicit the knee movement or jerk. Meditation on whether you do things with a knee jerk. Is this showing flexibility or a lack of it?

"Brings me to my knees" – This describes a humbling event or one that reduces you to subservience. Humility may not be a bad thing, if it is appropriate. If you are metaphorically doing this too often, you may be:

"Weak-kneed" - An expression portraying one's lack of willpower, strength or purpose. It is not a good thing to be weak-kneed all the time.

"Knee to the chest, knee to the groin, knee to the face or knee to the balls." – These describe severe blows from the knee to the body part of choice. A devastating event. If you are the one delivering the blows, shame on you, unless it is in self-defense.

"Kick to the knees." – The knees are an easy target when using kicking as an offensive maneuver. The results are devastating because the knees are weak. Again, this metaphor is similar to one used as a way of protecting oneself or striking out against someone else.

If you have knee pain, and you felt a twinge of something when you read the above expressions, perhaps your Body Window is speaking to you through your knees? Is this a physical or spiritual cause of your knee pain, or both? 

Are you a rigid person, unwilling to change or bend to new ideas or new situations? Are you weak-kneed, bending and giving into others too easily? Do you need to strengthen your resolve and strengthen your knees? Do you strike out with your knees, metaphorically to harm others, or do you do it to protect yourself? Meditate on your truth so you can heal your knee pain.

The Flatirons in Boulder, ColoradoAn overview of the Flatirons, near Boulder, Colorado

My Knee Pain

I have always been proud of my active lifestyle that has avoided any injury to my knees, for more than 50 years now. Overused and injured knees are the bane of human existence and I never want to go there!

I see my mother-in-law struggle with the immobility of osteoarthritis of the knees, and I am committed to do all to avoid going down that road. Knee replacement surgery is an ugly thing. I have taken care of too many people who have had this procedure and it is a painful, debilitating event that takes months of rehabilitation to overcome. Plus the older the person undertaking the surgery is, often the more difficult is the recovery.

One winter, several years ago, I had a minor skiing accident. When skiing down the icy entryway to the chair lift, I got caught in my husband’s ski with my right ski. The end result was that my right leg got pulled out from under me as I fell.

My leg was pulled out to the side as my right knee twisted outward. Ugh! I felt the pull in my knee. I cried out in fear, as it seemed my worst nightmare was about to happen – a knee injury!

My husband assisted me to my feet after he pulled off my right ski. I had right knee pain, but I was able to stand up. The pain was not severe, so I thought I would just walk it off. The lift attendant offered me a place to sit by the lift, but as the adrenaline subsided, I felt I could carry on. I replaced my right ski and boarded the lift.

I actually skied four more runs that day. My right knee was not really in pain, although it felt weak. After the fourth short run, I felt I needed to call it a day.

When I got home, I did the classic RICE for several days – Rest, Ice, (no Compression as there was no swelling or bruising), and Elevation. I meditated on my knee and the reason why I would manifest this accident. I touched my knee and sent it healing energy.

I am not sure why I manifested this accident, but I did know that my knee injury was very mild. I had been considering giving up telemark skiing and switching to traditional, parallel turning. Perhaps this was the reason? Was this my wake-up call? Was it a mere twist of fate? Hmm, interesting that I 'twisted' at the knee. Can I really just blame my twisted knee on a twist of fate? Or am I twisting a situation to get better control of it?

"The choices we make within the boundaries of the twists of fate determines who we are."  - John Perkins

Great! So instead of a twist of fate, I will take this twist of events in my life to make it for the better!

By day two I was experiencing only mild pain and stiffness in my knee. Phew! In a few more days all was well. I focused on healing the knee, and doing joint protection measures until full healing resulted.

Healing Knee Pain

The only way to heal the physical manifestations of our emotional responses to life is to become aware of them. Emotions affect our body - period. Body awareness is one of the tools that you can use to interpret your reality. You can use your Body Window to help you understand your knee pain.

Meditate on your knee pain. Listen to its messages. Understand the importance of flexibility and balance in your life. Ask yourself if you are too rigid or too flexible. Listen to your bodily reactions as you repeat the following affirmations:

"I bend and flex with ease as I walk through the situations of life."

"I am strong and flexible and ready for all that life offers me."

"I bend and glide through each new twist in life."

Knee Pain and 1st Chakra Energy

You may also wish to add yoga and breath-work to your healing regimen. Because knee pain is a foundational issue, the 1st chakra is involved. If you are unfamiliar with the energy of the body, click on the link here to learn more. 

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May your knee pain be healed through your application of self-awareness and your understanding of your body window manifestations in your knees. May your knees bend and flex and bring to you a new understanding of the twists of fate in your life, to help you heal your body-mind-soul!

"Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach." 
~ Tom Robbins, 1936

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