I’ve been seeing John to correct issues with a dislocated right knee. I first dislocated it 5 years ago but I still suffer with knee and back ache and weakened muscles in my right leg.
To check how I was progressing with strengthening my right leg John put me through some resistance exercises. Lying on the bed with 2 pillows under my head and my left knee raised John pushed against my upper thigh to try and push my leg down. As this is my weak leg it wasn’t hard for him to push against it. He then pushed onto my shin to try and push my leg into the bed and again my knee bent to the pressure easily. The last two exercises were with my feet, I had to flex my feet towards me and try and resist John bending my little toe and big toe down. My little toe in particular gave up very quickly.
Because so much of the weakness in my knee, and the subsequent lower back pain I experience, can be resolved by strengthening the supporting muscles and working on my posture John taught me the technique to create a ‘spine sandwich’. This allows me to engage my transverse abdominals which wrap around the lower abdomen, taking the pressure off the muscles immediately around my knee and strengthening my core and legs.
Before we began it helped me to roll into a ball and for John to rock me back and forth for a while so that the spine got used to curving that way for a change.
Lying down with 2 pillows under my head and my knees bent with feet on the bed – a neutral starting position I took a deep breath in for 3 seconds expanding ribs sideways. Then breathed out paying attention to my ribs tucking all the way back in.
I placed my hand underneath my spine just above the tailbone in the ‘nook’ where the spine curves and the other hand over my lower abs with my thumb by belly button.
Next I curved my tailbone up slightly (as if pushing bum into the bed) and tightened my pelvic floor muscles to around 20%. I could feel my lower belly area tighten slightly and flatten under my hand.
Finally I needed to engage and stretch the top three vertebrae in my neck. To do this I rolled my eyes down as if looking at my bely button, and then let my head follow suit so that the neck stretched slightly.
Holding this position John then repeated the resistance tests and the difference was amazing. My leg was much stronger and even my toes could resist the force John as putting on them. It’s surprising how much of a difference engaging and tightening my core had on my feet.
We then measured me against the wall and I seemed to have grown 1/2 an inch just from this exercise.
I’d always known that posture was important but the differences in before and after doing this exercise shocked me. I am know conscious of my seating position throughout the day at my desk, as well as the position of my spine neck and head when driving and I’m noticing a real difference in terms of knee and back ache at the end of the day. I can’t wait to start Pilates to continue the work on my core strength and posture.