Knees are for life not just for Christmas!

It might be a revelation but knees are designed to bend! Normal physiological movements at the knee are flexion and extension or bending and straightening; the normal range of motion is from 0 degrees and around 140 degrees of flexion. In addition the tibia rotates in relation to the femur but this is only possible when the knee is bent.

But really nothing is that simple and there are also accessory movements that occur in all joints when one articulating joint surface moves relative to another. Physiological movement is voluntary occurring as a muscle contracts, while accessory movements will occur automatically during physiological movements; thus the two movements occur simultaneously.

Although accessory movements cannot occur voluntarily, they may be produced by some external force and these accessory movements must occur for full-range physiological movement to take place. If any of the accessory component motions are restricted, normal physiological movements will be inhibited.

You could try standing with your feet and knees together, bend the knees to about 30 degrees and draw small, then medium sized circles clockwise and anticlockwise. This will explore some of the accessory movements at the knee joint which can in turn facilitate an increased range of physiological movement when practiced regularly.

Try if you can to put your joints through the full available range of motion at least once each day; this could take as little as 2 minutes and will pay dividends in the future.

Why Should We Walk Every Day?

To look after your meniscus of course! Fear of pain and fear of damage are two things which commonly cause people to limit the extent to which they bend their knees, particularly when bearing load.

The meniscus in the knee or ‘cartilage’ is essential to the functioning of the knee, offering load distribution, congruency for the joint, lubrication, and protection to the underlying hyaline cartilage covering the bone ends.

A Design flaw?

The meniscus has a relatively poor blood supply and only the outer 10% of the tissue has a circulation, thus they rely to a large degree on synovial fluid for nutrition.

Lack of nutrition may lead to degenerative changes and may inhibit any potential repair capabilities of the menisci. Meniscus degeneration affects around 35% of the population, and potentially contributes to the development of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Nutrients are delivered to meniscal cells through the surrounding synovial fluid and the blood vessels present in the outer region of the meniscus. Synovial fluid is the thick liquid that lubricates your joints and keeps them moving smoothly. It is produced by the synovial membrane and is cleared from the joint by lymphatic vessels this clearance is assisted by joint motion.

So think of the meniscus like a sponge, when a joint is loaded, the pressure squeezes fluid including waste products out of the cartilage, and when the pressure is relieved, the fluid seeps back in together with oxygen and nutrients.

You Are What You Eat!

Healthy Synovial fluid is made of hyaluronic acid and lubricin, proteinases, and collagenases and nutrition really matters. So It’s just another reason to eat leafy greens, bright-colored fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids; they nourish your joints and keep your synovial fluid healthy. Add foods high in allicin like onions and garlic, and fermented foods like yogurt and kefir and your joints will thank you.

Give yourself the gift of movement

This year why not remove this skill from the endangered list and set yourself a goal to improve your scores on the sitting rising test in 2021.

Sign up to receive my 25 movement hacks Youtube playlist delivered to your inbox and make 2021 a year to discover the freedom that strength and suppleness bring.


Chartered Physiotherapist. Passionate about movement as medicine. Using pilates and yoga to mitigate the symptoms of the menopause. Contact