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Knee Warm-Up

Knee injuries are regrettably common among martial artists and people in general. They’re stubborn and slow to heal. Using massage and self-applied acupressure, this exercise nourishes the knee with blood and qi. It can speed the repair process and, better yet, prevent injuries from occurring. My T’ai Chi (Taijiquan) students and I have been using it successfully for about twenty years. Arthritis sufferers find that it relieves pain and makes knees more mobile.

The exercise takes only a few minutes. I use it every day before stretching (the few knee problems I’ve had, have come from overstretching); I also use it before running, doing T’ai Chi, and to renew my knees midway through a long hike. It’s not unusual for me to do this exercise several times a day. My students and I have a lot of well-earned faith in the knee warm-up.

Acupressure points Stomach 34 (left) and Spleen 10 (right)

Acupressure points Stomach 34 (left) and Spleen 10 (right)

You can do this while standing, sitting on the edge of a chair, or sitting on the floor. If you’re standing, start with feet parallel, facing front. Shift the weight to one leg, rotate the empty foot out 45 degrees, and bend the knee. (This position can be hard on the lower back.) If you’re sitting on the floor, sit with both legs comfortably out in front. Bend one leg slightly at the knee and begin. Standing or sitting, it’s important that there’s no weight on the leg and the knee is bent.

If you have arthritis or a damaged knee, you may want to start the day by throwing your legs over the side of the bed in the morning and running through the process before you even stand up. Your knees will feel more fluid and lubricated.

 

1. Massage:

Rub the knee up and down lightly with both hands—front to back 12 times, and then side to side 12 times. Repeat this as many times as you like. I normally do it twice.

 

2. Acupressure:

First you’ll apply pressure to 2 symmetrical points simultaneously. I call them the “crazy points” because when we were kids, we’d grab each other there to make the person jump. One is located about 3 finger breadths above the upper inner edge of the knee cap. This point is known by acupuncturists as Spleen 10 and treats pain in the knee. The second point is about 3 finger breadths above the upper outer edge of the knee cap. Known as Stomach 34, this one relieves swelling, pain, and stiffness in the knee. Like all the acupressure points used in this exercise, they’re recognizable by how sensitive they are. After using the 3 finger breadths to locate the general area, move around to find the most sensitive spot. Dig in with thumbs or middle fingers and massage both points in a circular motion twelve times. I usually circle 24 times, but you can repeat as many times as you like for up to 2 to 3 minutes.


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