What is Hyperextended Knee ?
A normal knee allows the lower leg to flex back so that it can contact the hamstring. However, one experiences full extension typically when the leg is straight. The ligaments as well as the interlocking of the tibia on the femur prevents any further travel past that point. Some people will have more stretchy ligaments that in fact allow the knee to go slightly past this point. This condition perfectly natural to them is hyperextended knee. Although one may argue that such an ability sets them up for injury due to lack in functional stability.
However, I will discuss another kind of knee hyperextension that can happen to normal knees from sufficient amounts of force.
High Vs Low Impact
A hyperextended knee injury or any injury for that matter brings to mind quick high impact trauma such as a sports injury. We often forget to consider how our own everyday body mechanics can also create similar low impact injuries. A low impact injury that results in knee hyperextension will result in nagging pain behind knee, lead to knee instability and other structural dysfunctions over time. What part of your body should you lean into the wall as you hammer in a nail? Probably you would naturally support yourself with the other hand? Well what if you have an obstacle in front you need to lean over? Before leaning over it would you wonder what part of your body is biomechanically safe to anchor into this obstacle? Maybe you are sensitive to your body’s feedback and know that something doesnt feel right? Maybe the obstacle is too light to lean into? Would stand awkwardly or move it out of the way? Or would you just dismiss it, thinking its not worth making any adjustments for a quick tap on the wall?
If you listen to your body, I dont need to tell you that your anchoring should be no lower than your thighs. However, if you dont, let me tell you that it doesnt matter how quick the compromised positioning lasts. Our bodies’ soft tissues, dont know a grace period. Instead they have this marvelous ability to remember and to brace against acute unusual demands. A hyperextended knee is a physiological restructuring in response to stress. Injuries from both high impact and low impact exertion tend to remain locked in unless you consciously target that area with special exercises and therapy.
How To Avoid Low Impact Hyperextended Knee
Best way to avoid low impact situations is to listen to your body. Avoid pushing into your knees from any direction not just the front. Adjust your body position or the environment! According to your situation you can get down lower in your knees to bring up your body’s center of mass, or climb higher and get into a squat. Sometimes moving an obstacle out of the way is the best answer. Getting creative with body mechanics can certainly bring some entertainment into your task but as a rule of thumb try to avoid holding a contorted body position.
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