Human anatomy and I have always butted heads. I am entirely made up of bits and pieces that I want to know nothing about because they’re ugly, gross, messy, confusing and most especially frustrating because they don’t do what they’re supposed to and often break down on me.
This attitude has worked great for me because our society promotes this way of thinking. We love to focus on the most superficial parts and solutions. Don’t ask why you’re overweight, breaking out, not sleeping, feeling depressed, having chronic pain. Don’t ask what the pill, drink, workout routine, detox program is doing. Just do it and carry on. And if you can, try to look great while pulling it all off.
My disdain for my insides hit a roadblock when I started studying yoga. Not at first. But the longer you practice, the more you just start noticing what’s happening below the surface. It gets harder and harder to ignore as you learn to try making micro movements in your body and feeling the effects.
Recently, as part of my unraveling, I’ve been learning a little bit more about that achy breaky knee joint:
If you’re like me that picture is enough to make you want to head-into-sand your way to Facebook, Netflix or Starbucks. But hang with me for one sec.
Check out the white, pink and blue stuff. All that is pretty much the stuff that makes up your knee joint. The blue stuff (meniscus) is kinda like a shock absorber and the pink stuff (ligaments) on the outside and inside keep our knee from going anywhere.
And guess what? None of that is muscle.
I know. Me too. But here’s what that means.
It means your knee joint doesn’t stretch like a muscle. And it means when you injure it, it doesn’t heal like a muscle. For the most part, it doesn’t heal at all.
It means once the damage is done, it’s done.
So now when you think about the fragility of your knees, when you picture those teeny-weeny little pink ligaments that you can’t replace, does that pose/exercise/extra mile/shoe/delayed visit to the doctor seem as enticing?
It doesn’t for me.
It makes me want to apologize for every yank and pull and twist I ever gave me knees thinking I could force myself do something I wasn’t ready for. It makes me want to approach everything with more of a gentle spirit, ensuring I give that irreplaceable joint extra love.
So how do you know if your knees are ready? Well, it goes back to what I was saying at the beginning. You have to get to know your body. And that just takes time. The messages are there. Your various pieces of your knees have nerves that can tell you when you’re going to far but they can’t stop you from pushing the limit. Only you can do that. So next time you’re in yoga (or even if you’re not) see if you can start to “hear” your knee joint. What’s it saying? How can you better support it, to make sure that it serves you for as long as you knee-d it (I had to! I just had to!).
Now go take care of your knee joints, you adult!