Hyperextension is the ability to move a joint past its normal range of motion. Among many postural imbalances that people tend to enjoy, hyperextension of the knees might have the most far-reaching consequences.
My own predilection for hyperextension led me down a painful path, resulting in three surgeries to repair the meniscus — the cartilage between the thigh and shin that is meant to act as a shock absorber. It wasn’t until I learned to use my legs correctly that I stopped getting injured and suffering from back pain.
In the human body, the bones hold us up and the muscles move us. To take that one step further, the nerves tell the muscles to move the bones. If we don’t have good skeletal alignment, the nerves can’t flow freely and the muscles can’t receive the impulses to move the bones as well as they might.
Not everybody has the ability to hyperextend their joints, and some can do this in some joints and not others. Ligaments connect bones to other bones, and ligaments are meant to be extremely taught to prevent hyperextension. But for numerous reasons, many people have loose ligaments, which leads to less than stable joints.
If you can hyperextend your knees, the ability to do this will never go away. You simply have to stop doing it, which is easier said than done. If you are like me and hyperextended your knees for almost 40 years before trying to stop, actually straightening the leg might feel like you're bending it.
It took a good while for my brain to catch up to the fact that a leg with a hyperextended knee wasn’t straight. Now, about 10 years later, I tell my clients that where I used to hyperextend 90% of the time and have a straight leg 10%, I've switched that ratio and now employ my legs straight 90% of the time and hyperextend 10%.
I credit my current lack of back pain and injury to stopping this unfortunate locking of the knee backward. And since I began teaching other people to stop, their back pain has diminished, as well as neck and shoulder pain. Stopping hyperextension of the knees has also led to relief from chronic headaches for a number of my clients.
If you'd like to learn more about my work, you can check out my free telesummit on healing your own body.