Did you know that over 450,000 hip replacements are performed in just the US alone each year? If you think that's a lot, knee replacements top 600,000 each year!!! The question is, did the factory build us poorly, or like so many other things in life, is it user error that's to blame? Before your lower half needs, replacement parts give Qigong for hip and knee mobility a try.
Western Orthopedic medicine has come a long way since its inception in the early 1700s. But it definitely has a long way to go in terms of predictable outcomes after surgery.
I’ve been working with patients for the last 25 years and I personally have seen a wide range of success as well as, let's just say “a lack thereof” with regards to joint replacement surgeries. That's one of the many reasons why I love Traditional Chinese medicine’s preventative approach to health and wellness.
There are six meridians that run through both the hip and knee that need attention when addressing possible functional problems. Not to mention a whole lot of different muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. As with all problems, there are many possible solutions, and when it comes to the proper functioning of the hips and knees, not all are for everyone.
What type of exercises help with hip and knee health?
To heal the hips and knees you can choose to take an eastern or western approach or a combination of the two. As far as I’m concerned I always include both sides in the creation of the Qigong conditioning programs I create for my patients and students.
For the hips, it's important to include movements that incorporate flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, as well as circumduction. These types of movements activate the quadriceps, hamstrings, TFL, Glutes and inner thigh muscles, not to mention the deep hip rotators.
Both the knee and hip joint need specific focus when it comes to conditioning. Exercises that flex and extend the knee, which recruits the quads and hamstrings will protect and stabilize the knees and low back. Whereas internal and external rotational movements keep the hip itself healthy.
It should be obvious that all joints and muscles of the lower body affect the others. That being the case, mobility and stability exercises for both the hip and knee should be trained at the same time.
Can you use Qigong for hip and knee mobility?
Qigong movements are quite effective at conditioning the entire chain of muscles in the lower body due to the fact that the vast majority of exercises are done in a standing position. The fact that most exercises are done upright avails their usage to almost all segments of the population of varying fitness levels and ages.
As always we look at three factors, flexibility, range of motion and muscular stability.
Flexibility - Qigong movements promote dynamic vs static flexibility. The gentle movements move the muscles through ranges of motion they are not accustomed to in everyday life. This causes them to change and adapt to the different requirements.
The gently stretching stimulus during movement helps to promote flexibility while helping the muscle to stay relaxed. As an added benefit, dynamic flexibility produces faster and more quantifiable results in less time than the static stretch of say a yoga program.
Range of motion - Joint health is directly related to the size of the range of motion that they are moved through on a regular basis. As I’ve said many times in the past, most people’s day involves very little physical activity that challenges their body outside the norm.
“The moment we stop challenging ourselves in life, is the moment life becomes a challenge”
When it comes to the hip joint, as a ball and socket joint, rotational movements are key to their health. Challenging the hip joint with large internal and external rotational movements will ensure that tightness will not lead to friction, friction to irritation, and irritation to degeneration!
As for the knee, although the joint is specifically classified as a hinge joint, meaning that it swings back and forth like a hinge, it is able to rotate on the axis in a limited way. Many of the injuries that occur in sports are due to the inability of the joint to react to rotation or torsion acting upon it.
This is why many Qigong and martial arts exercises incorporate knee rotations as part of the movements to train the body to react to that kind of stimulus.
Now hopefully it's painfully obvious that baby steps are needed to increase the range of motion in a joint, much like increases in strength or flexibility of a muscle. But just like the latter, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Muscular Stability - When it comes to muscle stimulation, it's all about asking them to do something they are not used to. You don't have to squat 225lbs to have strong, functional legs. Although weight training is a fantastic way to strengthen your legs as a whole, adding external resistance above your own body is not necessary to produce increases in functionality, stability, endurance and strength.
As I said, you just have to ask them to do something new or challenging. Once again the footwork of Qigong training checks all the boxes. By simply shifting your weight from leg to leg in ways the body is not accustomed to while adding some rotational movement to challenge the balance as well as the smaller stabilizing muscles, the slow graceful movements can provide a heck of a workout for the legs.
Consistency is the key when it comes to any kind of conditioning program. Whether its aim is to produce improvements in balance, endurance, strength, speed, flexibility, mobility or simply alleviate pain, using Qigong for Hip and knee mobility just might be the answer you’ve been looking for…. Give it a try!
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