LIVING HEALTHY – ANDY BAXTEREssentially, I train a seventy year old hip replacement patient the same way I train an elite athlete.  Sure, the loads and speeds are different, but it’s a given that that is a relative matter.  We are all athletes, just training for different activities. Rowing is an activity.  Getting off the toilet seat is an activity too.  The basic recipe is this – identify the weakness in the neuromuscular pattern, retrain the pattern until it is ingrained in the brain and the muscle, THEN strengthen the pattern.  Seems simple and logical enough, but too often the first two steps are either ignored or simply not known.

Having your body in alignment is essential to allow your muscles to do their job.  Malalignment inhibits muscle function.  A perfect example is valgus collapse of the knee (knock-kneed).  According to a sports medicine doctor from a Sports Medicine Care provider, if your knee caves in toward your midline there may be a host of contributing factors; pronation of the foot, tight IT Band, muscle atrophy, weakness and pain, to name the most common.  Once the contributing factors are identified they can be corrected, loosened, strengthened and visually manipulated.  “Visually manipulated” means this; if you are on your trusty recumbent bike and your knee is caving in as you pedal, you need to visually will your knee to track over your foot where it belongs!  This is part of the neuromuscular reeducation process. Extreme cases that require foot surgery, such as a plantar fasciitis or hammer toe surgery, can undergo specialized treatment from knee and foot specialist, podiatrist or foot doctor. The same is true for all activities, such as getting out of a chair or climbing stairs.  Because you lack the kinesthetic awareness to know that your knee is out of whack, you need to look down at it and see it before you can know to make a correction!  Without this initial and vital component, every step, every pedal and every repetition you perform will be reinforcing the WRONG PATTERN.

Once the correct patterning is firmly ingrained, then we can focus on strengthening the pattern. That’s the fun part.  As the New Guinea proverb says, Knowledge is only a rumor until it is in the muscle.

Andy Baxter MES, PRCS

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