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Knee Function: Four Bones, Two Directions

The knee is comprised of four bones: femur, patella, tibia, and fibula.

Image taken from here.

Unlike your wrist and shoulder, the knee joint can only move in two directions: flexion and extension.

Image taken from here.

As you address knee pain, it is important to recognize that flexion and extension of the knee rarely happen in isolation. Because of this, knee pain often comes from improperly flexing and extending multiple joints throughout the day. The Squat Cures Knee Pain Dr. Kelly Starrett has his Olympic and World Champions practice squatting in their initial consultations. “The squat magically cures knee pain if you squat correctly,” he is fond of saying. To start, perform a bodyweight squat to a high box. Keep your spine straight, stick your butt back, break your knees at the same time as your hips reach back, and put your hands up for balance. You will find that you can now squat with no pain for a few reasons:

  1. You’re unloading your quad tendons.

  2. Tension is released because the eccentric/concentric chain is broken.

  3. The shin is (close to) vertical.

  4. The femur is rotating around a vertical tibia.

Consistency is key, however. If you habitually hit these positions, the same position a toddler will squat in as he/she plays with toys, knee pain will slowly drift away. Tyler P.S. Watch this video series by Dr. Starrett: Solving Knee Pain, Part 1 Solving Knee Pain, Part 2 Solving Knee Pain, Part 3 WOD 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 Air Squats Burpees Other Articles In This Series: 1. Knee Function: Four Bones, Two Directions 2. Knee Function: Anterior Muscles 3. Knee Function: Posterior Muscles

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