Preventing and Treating a Hyperextended Knee
Even the thought of a hyperextended knee can seem painful. Hyperextension in medical terminology refers to the movement of a joint beyond its normal range of motion. In the case of a knee or elbow, hyperextension normally involves movement of the joint in the opposite direction from the direction it was designed to move in. It is difficult, if not impossible to hyperextend a knee if the lower leg is moved back and up towards the buttocks. It is similarly difficult to hyperextend an elbow by moving the forearm towards the front of the shoulder. The lower leg is not designed however to move forward of the knee, nor is the forearm designed to move more than 180 degrees away from the upper arm.
A hyperextended knee or elbow is indeed painful. If the range of motion is not extended too far beyond what is normal, the pain will soon subside, and little damage may have been done. If the hyperextension is extensive however, and especially if the movement is sudden, tendons, ligaments, and even cartilage can severely damaged, or even ruptured.
Hypermobility and Hyperextension Are Not the Same
Some people are loose jointed, or even double jointed. Those people can move their limbs in directions or positions that most people cannot. When they do so, they are not experiencing hypertension, because the joints are abnormally shaped, and are only moving the way they have been designed to move. Those people have hypermobility, and when they move a limb in what appears to be an impossible position, they are not stretching a body part beyond where it should be stretched. These people do not have true double joints, but joints that are somewhat abnormally formed.
A hyperextended knee will usually heal in time if the injury incurred is not too severe. The knee will need to be rested, and once it has healed should be exercised to build up the surrounding muscles. Strong muscles around a joint will tend to keep the joint from being moved beyond its normal range of motion. If the hyperextension results in serious damage, the injury can at times become permanent and surgery may be required.
Anyone can experience a hyperextended knee. The condition most often happens when jumping, and landing on the foot wrong, causerie the knee to bend backwards. This type of injury can also happen as the result of a fall. It is mostly athletes who suffer this type of injury however. Any athletic event in which there is a significant amount of running with quick stops and starts, or changes in direction, carries with it a risk of hyperextending an elbow, knee, or sometimes a shoulder.
Where Yoga Can Help
One of the best ways to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint is the practice of yoga. The strengthening of these muscles helps to stabilize tendons and ligaments which are slightly loose, and therefore allow the knee to begin to move in an unnatural direction more easily. If the lower leg is permitted to move ahead of the knee only slightly, because the tendons and ligaments permit it to do so, the chances of it becoming hyperextended at some point in time can increase dramatically. While we tend to think that having some flexibility in our joints is a good thing, as opposed to joints that are too stiff, a joint can also become too flexible, and subject to injury.
If you take a close look at the knee joint, while it appears to be somewhat complicated because of the knee cap and the number of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the vicinity, it is basically two where two long bones meet, one on top of the other. The fact that the bones are so long gives them plenty of leverage, which is why landing on a foot the wrong way can sometimes put a great deal of pressure on the knee joint.
A knee that is easily subject to being hyperextended because the tendons or ligaments are too loose or have become overstretched can make certain yoga poses difficult to do correctly. A yoga instructor, especially one who is well versed in the anatomy of the human body, can usually tell why a student may not be able to assume or hold certain poses, and identify what corrective action needs to be taken. For instance, those who have some hyperextension in one or both knees will usually have weaker quadriceps muscles. The may even have difficulty in correctly assuming one of the basic yoga poses, the Mountain Pose.
Knees that are slightly hyperextended can also be the result of a posture problem. Posture is constantly being addressed in a typical yoga class. It almost seem unnecessary at times, but constantly maintaining correct posture is something most people don’t always do very well, and how straight we stand can have a great deal of impact on our knee joints.
A hyperextended knee isn’t only something that one experiences and hopefully survives without too much damage being done. There are actually things that can be done to minimize the possibility of injury, including taking corrective action designed to keep the knee joint anatomically sound and healthy.