Updated: Feb 15, 2022
For those who know me well would know that I have always been super active. One of my favorite sports is tennis. I started playing since I was in my teens and had been playing regularly for over 30 years. Snow-skiing and ice-skating are among my other favorite sports. All my activities had taken a toll on my knees. Four years ago, I had an accident on the slope and ended up with an operation on my right knee. It wasn’t the best experience but that didn’t slow me down. I continued with all my classes and went skiing twice a year. But I did rely on my left leg a lot more after the operation since I couldn’t have full flexion on my right knee.
Three years down the road, I started feeling pain on my left knee. It started with knee pain whenever I put weight on my knee – like when we do anjanayasana (low lunge). Then I started experiencing pain when I walked. I went through the whole process of MRI and X-ray. As expected, there is loss of cartilage due to wear-and-tear and my knee cap was also misaligned. After consulting two orthopedic surgeons, I was told that nothing can be done except for physiotherapy. I was about to accept the sad fact that I would lose certain mobility on my left leg. Not only that the pain was quite unbearable when I walked, there would be a lot of other things that I couldn’t do, including skiing, roller blading or ice skating. Lucky for me, I have a very good TCM doctor who has been treating me for all my sport injuries for years. My only regret was that I went to see her too late. It turned out that I have been overusing my quadricep and glutes without proper tension release. When the muscles on the lateral side of my thigh are much tighter than the medial side, the constant tension pulled my knee cap off the track. The knock-on effect was that the imbalance in my thigh and glutes muscles started affecting my back as well, giving me lower back pain on one side. Everything is connected! My TCM doctor helped me loosen up the muscles and I found instant release of tension on my leg and knee cap.
Last year when I was doing my 300-hr YTT (Yoga Teacher Training), my teacher always likes to start the 2-hour training using a foam roller. We learned how to use a roller to release tension from the lower body and then used yoga poses to actively strengthen the glute (hip) and leg muscles. A lot of times we don’t realize how tight our muscles are until we try releasing the tension. Foam rolling is like using your body weight to do deep massage. It helps relieve muscle tightness and hence promotes better blood circulation to reduce muscle soreness and to enhance muscle growth. With regular targeted practice, my leg started getting stronger and much more mobile. I still can’t flex my knee 100% like what I used to do. However, there is no more knee pain and I would not need to miss the slope any more once the Covid situation is well under control.
Disclaimer: We are all built differently and our knee issues would not be the same. I am just sharing my personal experience without implying that foam rolling will help with all knee malice. If you have any knee issues, please consult with your doctor or physiotherapist first for their professional advice.