For years I had issues with my right knee. I was told I needed surgery on more than one occasion in order to solve my problem, but I knew there was a better way. That’s when I discovered what I call the “lateral leg connection.” You see, it wasn’t that I needed surgery, it was that the muscles and fascia on the side of my leg were weak and tight, respectively. We tend to focus on and train the “mirror muscles.” These are the ones we can see in the mirror at the gym or studio and in my case, the quadriceps. I knew enough as a runner that I needed to train the muscles on the back of my thigh, the hamstrings. But what about those stabilizing muscles on the side? Huh? What are those?!
The much underappreciated tensor fascia latae (TFL) and gluteus medius are key to hip and leg stability. If these muscles get ignored, the IT (iliotibial) band can get very tight very quick. The IT band is a thick band of fascia that originates from the TFL, the muscle coming off of the side of your hip, and inserts just below the knee. If the hip muscles are weak and the IT band tight, the IT band can pull the patella (knee cap) to the side, causing it to track improperly (patellofemoral syndrome) resulting in pain, degradation of the cartilage under the knee cap and in some cases, surgery. You can keep your knees, hips and IT band happy by using your Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to perform self myofascial release in these areas, and tone your TFL and gluteus medius by performing the Yoga Tune Up® pose Abductor Lifts (shown below!). This pose, along with a regular yoga and running regime, keep me pain free!