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What can help knocked-knees more than surgery…. lifestyle adaptations

My mom had worked at the Orthopedic section where she had seen patients coming in for knock-knee (genu valgum) correction surgery. She would advise against having the surgery unless really necessary. Because she had noted that after the surgery, it seemed to give the patient more problem than before.

For one, I have knocked-knees all my life.  My knees turned inward when I walk and the condition is compounded due to me being overweight. Knock-knee is a structural deformity- something that is hard to find a perfect cure or change.

I have strong doubt that surgery can actually cure or completely correct knock-knees because the issue does not lie with the knees. Often, we are quick to assume that the cause of the problem is due to the structural imbalance of the knee- and surgery just try to fix that. This is without considering the entire muscoluskeletal system on the whole- from our neck, lower backs, buttocks, hips all the way to our knees. Imagine the knee is being surgically aligned to face outward, but the leg itself actually turn inward at the hip sockets – so you can imagine that after the surgery- each turn one way- this may cause other structural damage.

What that can help more than surgery- lifestyle changes

If you have knocked knees or knees that turned inward, you would have noticed that the particular leg also turned inward at the hip socket. An indicative of tight muscles? By lossening up the muscles with hip opening and hamstring stretches, it can help to improve the condition.

The type of exercises that can help are yoga, stretching classes. From young, I’ve remained fairly flexible and this has helped me to reduce knee related injuries. There were a few comments that I’ve received previously from active teenagers with knocked-knees and not overweight but used to sprain their knee or muscles. If you are prone towards knee injuries, you would need to ensure you always warm up adequently- light jogs or walks, followed by stretching after your muscles are warmed up sufficiently.

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When the muscles are less tensed, you can consciously try to turn your leg upwards when you walk.  Do note if your muscles are tight, it’s hard to turn the knees- so going for yoga classes can help you build up more overall flexibility. Todate, I’ve not seen any accomplished yoga instructor who had knocked knee. I personally find the yoga classes help loosen up all the way from my shoulders, back, lower back, buttocks, hips and limbs- and then I would try to turn my knees outward as I walk. It does not feel stiff or painful- but just a habit I need to consciously develop.

Due to almost a lifetime of being flexible, my knocked knee can be seen but it is not so obvious as some other people.

By the structural surceptibility towards injuries, it is not advisable to constantly do plyometrics or high intensity cardiovascular exercises or aerobics. Because these high impact exercises would accelerate the wear and tear on the knees. Of course, the knee would suffer from wear and tear with age but for a person with bow legs or knocked knee- the pain and complication (arthritis, osteroarthritis) comes in much earlier. If you really really want to indulge in these exercises, you need to invest in a very good (and probably expensive) pair of sports shoes fitted with orthotic insoles that are specifically designed for your overall structure. You cannot eliminate the risk of injury totally but you can reduce through taking precautions.

Food choices

You may be surprised- but your food choices play an important role. I know because my knees had a funny creaking sound from what looks like an early stage of osteoarthritis– when I was in my twenties!  This stems from years of drinking iced milk tea. I did not have that problem before I started drinking the iced milk tea.

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In Chinese medicine, there are cold or warm food/drinks. Drinking iced or cold drinks would worsen the condition of your knees- I know because I’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s not only damaging to your knees and stiffens your body, it damages the entire internal balance of your system.

You may find that after taking certain food, your joints or knees may feel stiff or even painful. Try to be more aware and avoid those type of food that makes you feel that way. These foods are usually what olden folks in the East would avoid if they had arthritis.

Meridian blockages, pain and blockages

In the West, the only option seemed to be taking painkillers or having surgery for pain or posturial imbalances. Too much painkillers would stress on the liver and kidneys- and furthermore, the body would grow immune and require heavier dosages over time. Whereas surgery has its own risks and possible complications.

Whereas in the East, the approach taken is much more different.

Many ancient healings believe that invisible meridian runs through our body.  In Chinese healing, it is believed that pain occurs in areas where there are blockages or qi stagnantation. Qi/ chi flows through our body-it is something that we cannot see but many effective healing systems worked based on the understanding of them. For example in Thailand, a healer worked through my knees with massage to clear blockages and toxins accumulations that causes pain. Think of these channels like water pipes- when one part is unnaturally crooked, debris and waste tend to accumulate and stay there, causing stagnatation. It can cause water to get stuck and does not flow freely. By using massage, acupuncture, acupressure, qi gong, wai tan kung or cane exercise, it clears off the blockages, enabling energy to flow freely.

And then I went to Singapore, a healer combined tui na and bamboo cane beating to cure knee, back and other painful conditions.  Both these healers mentioned the problem is at my right butt and worked to rectify the area (very painful during treatment).

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These methods work but one had to ensure the pain, undergo lifestyle changes or consistently practice certain forms of exercise like yoga and qi gong. As I practiced wai tan kung exercises (a type of exercise to promote smoother qi movement in the body and to loosen the joints), coupled with stretching exercises and avoiding certain types of food, together with a dose of awareness when I walk, I can turn my inward knees outward without too much of an effort.

But most importantly, I’ve accepted my condition and my knees just the way they are. I believe we all inherit certain condition due to a reason- and somehow, I was able to search and share my findings with others. So many people live with pain- and I am glad some of the things I shared from my own experience had also helped others.

Deeper Issues with Self Acceptance

Some girls just keep projecting that their knocked knees are ugly and hideous even though in reality, they are not as bad.  They worry that their boyfriend or potential partners would mind. Well, a guy chooses to reject you due to your knocked-knees, do you think it is worth living with that kind of shallowness in your life?

If a man truly loves you, he would know all your strengths and weaknessness (physical and emotional) and still accept you for who you are. Likewise you of him. People like this do exist– but they will not come into our lives if we are constantly are self conscious and do not have self confidence and often loathing and rejecting part of ourselves.

Learn to love and accept yourself for how, what and who you are and you would find a new world opens up 😉

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  • D. Winton October 2, 2012, 3:14 am

    I had surgery for knock knees when I was eleven, three staples in the inside growth plates for a year and my knees were perfect and have never had a minutes trouble with them since and am 49 now!

    • Yin October 2, 2012, 9:26 am

      Hi D Winton, thanks for sharing and glad to hear that the surgery had helped you. Perhaps the cases I heard was from older teenagers as when we grow older, our bones growth are complete and it may be too late to have the surgery. Great to hear a success story 🙂

  • Kresten November 18, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Check out straightenmylegs.com for clothing items made for women with knock knees. Our legs shouldnt affect our self esteem, we can still look great and feel conifdent.

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