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So you’ve got a ‘bad knee’. 

Problem is, you’re too young to have bad knees, so you largely ignore it and avoid things that make it worse, so it doesn’t hurt that much.

You can’t have damaged anything recently, but you have had some big injuries in the past, injuries you perhaps could have rehabbed a little better, but hey, you were an invincible teenager back then.

Sometimes you forget you have a bad knee, and do some seemingly light exercise, like kicking the footy or going for a run with a mate, but while they experience no issue and are able to continue these activities the next day, you’re in agony for the rest of the week and beyond.

And so the cycle continues, never really doing much to fix the bad knee, until it starts to creep into your day-to-day life or you realise that calories have consequences and you need to shape up, but your knee is holding you back.

The good news is that there is a reason for your pain and there is something you can do about it, but first you need to understand exactly what is happening. 

Putting it simply, previous physical trauma, coupled with ongoing beliefs and cognitions around your ‘bad knee’ leads to a cycle of disuse or chronic underload. Your body gets good at compensating for your painful knee by using other muscles to move, so the area becomes weak. To make matters worse, your nervous system gets better at signalling pain in that area while this is all going on as well.

This means that when you undertake ‘abnormal’ activity or something that you don’t typically do, your sensitive knee is not prepared for the challenge and reacts accordingly, no different to a plastic garden chair that’s been left out all year, set up to crumble under the weight of your Dad at Christmas lunch.

Fortunately, when you have flare ups, it is unlikely that you have actually re-injured any of those passive structures like the bones, ligaments and cartilage in your knee, but simply re-aggravated the system.

So how do we fix it? 

Well, it’s going to take time and effort, and it won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to find a reason worth committing for, so set yourself some goals so you have a clear direction of where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there.

Next, we need to re-learn how to move, we need to get strong and then we need to expose your body to some challenges.

This is where it really helps to have someone assess and help build a plan for you. Everyone is going to have a different entry level and for more complex presentations, a cookie cutter approach isn’t going to be enough, it needs to be personalised.

If you can’t squat, it’s time to learn. Same goes for deadlifting. You need to break down movement barriers and start proving to yourself (if anything) that you can do things that you thought might not be possible, all by building yourself up with suitable progressions and regressions of movements.

You don’t need access to a gym, but it will fast track your progress if you do. You’re going to need to train 2-3 times per week, and moderate some of your less productive lifestyle habits.

Every four weeks it’s important to check in, re-assess your progress and perhaps reframe some goals or timelines if need be. Working in little micro cycles can help you focus, so when you zoom out to the bigger picture you can see marked change.

Once you’ve done a few months, you’ve completed your first macro cycle, congratulations! You will be proud of the difference you’ve made within yourself and be surprised of the things you can now achieve.

You can take this journey as far as you set your goals, and they will become more refined as you understand the difference you can make with hard work and a little guidance.

If you’re willing to undertake this exciting journey but are not sure where to start, reach out to one of our amazing staff and explore your options, and find the course of action that’s right for you. Then, you can finally make headway towards where you want to go, but maybe never thought you could!

Dan Ryles


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