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BEES KNEES. 30 Aug 2011

  Nicole

Lauren,

Ever since I've started lithing I've been experiencing pain in my left knee, I can do some things but not all. I especially have problems with lunges and jumping. I get very frustrated with myself and I feel like I am cheating myself a good workout when I only do a few lunges at the barre. I can do it all on my right side. Do you have any suggestions on what to do about the pain so that I can get through a workout?  JR

Hey J! 

So sorry to hear about your knee.  I know how frustrating that can be.  I'm no doctor, and you could possibly have an injury or "runners knee," but it sounds like your left leg alignment may be off when you're doing barre work. We often see people work too far away from the barre or squeeze the ball too hard during squats which causes the patella (knee cap) to track out of alignment laterally.  Try to pay attention to what your left foot and knee are doing while you're at the barre and/or jumping.  They should be aligned parallel.  Are they lateral or medial? 

With Lithe, the body tends to become stronger from the extremities first, then, to the interior core. As your core becomes stronger (your core is the area from your nipple to your knees), it will free the load from your feet and lower leg/knees.  Beginners tend to work from their feet/lower extremities instead of relaxing them and working from the center. Also, try not to think of liberty/lunges/barre work as "leg work."  You want to lift from your center, engage the glutes and "pull up on your kneecap" so that you engage the quad and track your patella properly. This "pulling up on the kneecap" action also takes the weight off of the feet and lower leg.

Also, you've probably worn sneakers your entire life while working out.  Sneakers really prohibit the foot, ankle and calf from working like we work them while Lithing.  Barefoot training is a totally different ballgame and in the beginning, your feet, ankles and knees are weak.  Good news ls, you and your feet/knees/lower leg will become much stronger. To ease the pain in the meantime, I would stay on a mat, stay flat-footed during lunges and ease your way into stiletto over time (or never). 

Don't rush your progress-staying flat-footed is way better than injuring your knee, overcompensating with another part of your body, overworking your muscles and pushing to hard.  Listen to your body, modify and see your MD/PT if it keeps bothering you!

Image of Lithe Instructor, Nicole Sewall via Dominic Episcopo

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I also experience knee pain, but in my case it's from running...it's a sharp and strong pain in the center of my knee. My solution to that is unfortunately, just not running. I find that I don't ever have pain in Lithe classes though...paying strong attention to your form, like Lauren said, will probably help.

As far as pain-relieving suggestions from a non-doctor...

In the past the things I've done for the pain are: stretch...a lot. When the muscles around the knee joint are tight, it seems to make the knee cap rub more (my own theory).

Also, back when I played soccer, the trainer at my school would wrap tape around my leg, right under the knee cap (over top a layer of sports wrap-that spongey stuff), in order to lift it up a bit and reduce friction. Maybe check this out online to see how to do it properly - it did wonders for me. A knee brace also works!

Lauren, I am glad you posted this because I am experiencing pain in my ankles and calves. In the morning when I get out of bed I can barely walk, it takes me few steps before I can engage in normal walking, I feel as if everything is pulling so tight that something might break. It sounds dramatic and extreme but just to give you an idea of how it feels, also after jump-y classes I experience a constant pain on my left side ankle up my leg on that side bone. I stopped doing lounges in stiletto because I could not bear the pain and had to give up step rally. I am noticing how at times I do not land on my full foot when I jump and I started to correct that and I will take into consideration this post, very helpful! Any other thoughts?

Hey Pam! Ouch, that's not good. You should never be in the wrong kind of pain at Lithe. Sounds like a combination of overuse and shin splints. I think that you're probably bouncing and landing entirely too much/hard on the balls of your feet during cardio and I'm assuming that you're form is also off. Remember to breathe and slide the shoulders down! That inhale and forced exhale sets the foundation for working from your core.

In time, you'll really be working from your core rather than the feet/ankles. Also, make sure that you're always on a mat when jumping around.

Finally, talk to your instructors before class and ask them to really keep an eye on your form. If you're still having pain after adjusting your form, I would recommend wearing sneakers or ballet shoes for Lithe (just please don't bring in street sneakers/shoes...they track bacteria, dirt, and glass/rocks into the mat room).

We don't recommend wearing sneakers unless you are having real pain, b/c it totally negates the work that we do, but it seems like this is an exception.

You should also rest, ice and elevate your legs after class. Motrin helps as does wrapping the shins.

Check out this blog post for additional tips: http://www.fithiphealthy.com/fithiphealthy/2011/03/lithe-cardio.html

Let us know how you're feeling in 1-2 weeks!

i'll echo everything lauren said, and make sure to land with the whole foot on the mat while jumping!

definitely ask us to check out your form, we are always happy to, or stop us after class if a certain move in particular is bothersome.

if the pain continues, definitely see your doctor--sounds like a tendonitis, but i've seen stress fractures come from even less!

Lauren and Anne Marie, thank you for your responses. In Skinny Mini last night Carrie did not notice anything off with my form but that I was definitely landing on the balls of my feet when running at the bar. I had noticed this in my jumps ... I just need to reframe my thinking during cardio and correct myself. I often walk close to 2 miles on my way to class so maybe it is a combination with overuse too. I will pay more attention over the next few weeks and let's see what happens. I love being barefoot and I really do not want to put on shoes in class. Stress fracture?? The Labor Day weekend break might help too. Thank you again! : )

Pam- Keep us posted! Heels to the mat lady, heels to the mat!! Don't worry, if you forget I will remind you!!!!!! xoxoxo

Thanks Carrie : ) xo

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