Knee problems and what can we do about them
Common problems, especially of sports active people are pain in the knees, worn out cartilage and meniscus injuries.
Many of my clients state dealing with the knee problems as the main reason for learning the AEQ method. On the other hand, I have noticed the same cause for the repeating knee problems and pain at most of my clients: highly tense core of the body (middle of torso). This part of the body that ties together rib cage and legs is strong and stable, but the muscles of this part of the body seem unable to relax.
Core's basic function is to move the chest and the pelvis about equally efficiently in all directions; hence, the muscles need to be able to contract and relax, and at the same time move the torso coordinately and effectively. Focusing on strengthening the muscles and effort and power based progress are the key shortcomings of the modern way of life, training and rehabilitation. This kind of approach is logical from the perspective 'man as a machine' as it gives good short-term results. However, it leads to increasingly more tension and stiff movement in the long term.
One should not forget that the constant search for better movement performance was the basic need that enabled human beings to survive. Evolution thoroughly eliminated organisms that were not efficient enough to survive. Evolution of humankind was a constant improvement for survival where those who did more with less energy had the advantage.
When we look at the shape and the movement of the human body through this perspective, we can see the highly unstable structure of the body. Tall slim structure standing on two relatively small feet is very unstable compared to other animals. When we ask ourselves why would our species choose such body shape and movement method, we get a very clear answer: unstable structure can be moved with much less energy than the more stable one. However, it is also crucial for survival to have very good control over the unstable structure.
Good control demands lots of information (sense – proprioception), the ability to process information well (brain/CNS) and enough well controlled moving structures (muscles) – all that for a good command of the unstable structure (body) used for the movement that is needed to survive. So it has always been important to do all the necessary moves with as little energy as possible, which is possible only by learning a complex movement and a lot of time to gain an independence. Two characteristics of a human being, granting the advantage over other animal species, are learning and adaptability, both deriving from the ability to learn. There is no logic in that we just need to strengthen the core muscles only to stand upright and breathe normally.
Unnecessary or excessive contraction causes inefficient energy consumption.
It is only logical, from the perspective of the evolution, that the body performs the basic functions as efficiently as possible and that it uses a solid base (skeleton) with close to zero-energy consumption to deal with the gravity, and the muscles, which are the body's main energy consumer, should be used effectively to move the skeleton and body. Moreover, the efficient use demands good coordination and the latter demands equally good ability to relax muscles within the move (antagonists) as well as their contraction (agonists).
The Newton law states clearly, when something gets shorter, something must get longer to maintain the balance and effectiveness of the move. For example, when we move forward, the back of the body needs to extend and the front side needs to shorten, and vice versa. The key to stability is in well-controlled instability, which is especially obvious in the center of the body as it is designed for the maximum flexibility and it is the only part of the body not supported and fortified with fixed joints. I have been noticing at my clients with knee problems that they have a strong core and poor ability to relax it and control that power. This leads to reduced easiness of motion and difficult rotation in the center of the body, pelvis, legs and hips.
Because the center of the body does not do its task, the knees have to take it over, however they are not designed to do a lot rotation. Their structure is meant mainly for flexion and extension. Due to the tense, disengaged core we do not move the knees with regard to the structure, hence the painful, frequently repeating problems, which the classical approach of strengthening leg and torso stabilizers only worsens in the long run.
By learning the AEQ method and reducing the sensory-motor amnesia we can efficiently increase the sense for the muscles of the core, hence the control over them and consequently we can improve coordination of the movements. All that results in better efficiency and the correct use of the structure and joint movements. It enables relaxation when not moving (sleeping…) and improves regeneration and rehabilitation of the overstrained and falsely worn out joints. Clients notice a change after only a few months: they move with ease, pain is reduced or even eliminated, knee problems are gone. However, definite improvement is possible only if the injuries and worn-outs are not too severe. AEQ clinical somatics is an efficient and necessary part of the therapy for treating painful and dysfunctional knees. It can prevent injury recurrence after successful surgical procedures and physiotherapeutic rehabilitation.
Strong pains, which usually accompany or are caused by the knee injuries, tighten the muscles and stiffen the body, especially where it is the most harmful for the long-term, in the core. Therefore, it is really important to restore the sense, control and coordination after completion of the standard rehabilitation in order to be able to use the body the way it was developed throughout the evolution to perform the most efficient movement in the gravity.
Learning and using knowledge AEQ method can give, will make us feel like the gravity's lower, which is very important for our long-term health, and the way we live.
Aleš Ernst, teacher of AEQ method level 5