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Knee and low back discomfort

Here is a bit of advice: Do not neglect those little aching hip or knee pains when exercising. These annoyances are a hint from the body that something is not aligned properly. Usually, that ‘something’ has to do with the low back and a muscle called the Psoas (so-az).

The psoas muscle attaches to each side of the anterior (front) lumbar spine: the natural curve of the low back. If this muscle is tight, it pulls the entire lower skeleton forward. More arching in the low back equates to pain caused by hip imbalance and knee misalignment.

The first thing most people do is visit an orthopedist. Get ready for a whopping set of charges that often lead to no results. If knee pain is the issue, x-rays will be first. The patient will be told of loss of cartilage-which is generally normal as people age. There will be suggestions of MRIs and arthroscopic surgery to clean out the crud that has built up there. The patient might be put on the fast track for knee replacement. There will be little or no advice about structural alignment, muscle weakness or tightness. So, how is it fixed?

The first step is to see a physical therapist that specializes in orthopedics. The patient will go through an assessment that will advise the PT which muscles have weakened. The exercise prescription will appear mundane, but there is a method to the madness. Because the body support system is a balance of opposing muscle groups, tighter muscles will need releasing and weaker muscles will need strengthening.

Another bit of advice is to see a well-trained chiropractor. Chiropractors deal with spinal issues 90% of their day. The premise is that if the spine is aligned properly, there will be less tension on the attaching muscles. Additionally, proper spinal alignment allows for the nerves that exit the spinal column better communication to limbs and internal organs. Manipulations can be performed gently: fear is not necessary.

Lastly, see a massage therapist. Most MTs have training in releasing tension in the hip muscles, but it cannot hurt to research one with a bit more experience. This type of deep massage is not relaxing and is often uncomfortable. It is important to communicate with the therapist about pain tolerance. Commit to at least eight sessions. Medical insurance does not cover massage but many policies offer discounts.

Balancing the psoas is not an easy process; no doubt, it will be a lifetime focus. Adding a set of psoas stretches will help maintain results. Yoga is one such exercise since most all postures (asanas) affect the psoas. Remember, though invasive procedures might provide relief, it will most likely be temporary because the deeper issue is not resolved. All surgeries, no matter how minor, have associated risks with infection and scar tissue.