The knee joint is the largest joint in our body, and it’s also one of the most complex. As a hinge joint, the knee moves in flexion and extension with a tiny bit of rotation. It’s less stable than other types of joints such as the shoulder and hip, which are ball-and-socket joints. The knee sustains a huge amount of stress and torque, making it vulnerable to injury. There are 19 million doctor visits annually concerning knee issues. Within its complex design of the femur bone (thigh) joining with the tibia and fibula (the lower leg) and the patella (floating knee cap), along with essential components including ligaments, tendons, fluid-filled sacs called bursa, fascia, synovial fluid, and cartilage, it’s susceptible to a variety of conditions, such as torn meniscus, anterior cruciate ligament injuries, patella tendinitis, bursitis, and arthritis to name just a few. Personally, I have had multiple knee injuries from ski racing and surfing.
Not only is the knee vulnerable, physically, but also from a philosophical perspective. The knee is symbolic of vulnerability. You lower to one knee to propose, you may get on both knees to pray, or kneel to meditate. It’s a sacred humbling gesture that embodies uncertainty and the unknown.
Social Scientist, researcher, and author, Brene Brown from her latest and greatest book Rising Strong, says: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage. I believe that vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.”
“Being vulnerable is everything, by allowing myself to be a real human being with real problems I made a connection far greater than any throwback Thursday could. Being vulnerable is how we heal.” ~ Rachel Brathen, aka @yoga_girl
“To love is to be vulnerable.” ~ C.S. Lewis
As a yoga teacher I am exposed and seen (naked in a raw metaphorical sense) in order to share what I love with my students. I never dreamed of (or, in my case, had nightmares about) guiding a group of 35 students through yoga poses who are perhaps exploring their own vulnerability experience on their mat. When I write these blogs, create yoga videos, surf bigger waves than I think I can handle, or have a conversation to deepen a relationship, I feel like I am in a vortex of a blurry panic. My breath might momentarily evaporate, but (the key word) there is something inside nudging me forward into the discomfort to be me, to share myself, to be seen and visible, instead of invisible. Vulnerability is sneaky and stealthy, and it catches us in unexpected places and situations. It’s everywhere. When do you feel vulnerable? Maybe in your parenting, relationships, hobbies and activities, or even enduring an injury you had. Ultimately, vulnerability will lead you to be connected deeper to your soul, to heal, and to understand yourself better. It’s a personal experience that usually involves a flutter of excitement with a hint of scariness, but when you explore in that zone, you grow and evolve. Here are some tips to keep those knees healthy and protect your most vulnerable joints.
- Strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and even your glutes. Balance in tree pose or hug your knee to your chest, and emphasize the power in your standing leg. Get low in chair pose to engage your quads, add a twist too! (See photos below).
- Stretch the muscles around the knee joint, but be aware to not stretch the delicate tendons and ligaments directly behind the knee. (Practice yoga videos in YouTube channel).
- Manage your weight (for every excess pound of your normal weight, it adds three to four additional pounds of pressure for every step you take).
- Wear proper shoes, emphasize cushioning if you have arthritis.
- Warm up before working out, especially for those activities that demand twisting, stopping, and abrupt turning.
- Gently relax into child’s pose to help increase and maintain knee range of motion or give your knees a hug. (See photos below).
From our physical vulnerabilities of the largest joint in our body to being vulnerable on our personal adventure, it’s sacred and priceless to step into ambiguity. For me it might very well involve dropping to my knees to pray, sitting in the stillness of meditation, or surrendering in child’s pose.
With an open heart,