There’s nothing you can do about the natural aging process that eventually affects your spine’s bones, joints, and discs. However, you can make an effort to avoid certain mistakes with your posture that tend to accelerate degeneration. One of the most common posture-related mistakes that can affect your spine is hyperextending your knees. Hyperextension refers to the act of extending a joint beyond its normal range of motion or flexibility. Here’s a closer look at the connection between knee hyperextension and your spine.
Gives Your Muscles More to Do
By hyperextending your knees, you’re giving the muscles that normally provide indirect support to your spine more work to do, which puts more pressure on your spine, especially around the lower back area. This added pressure can increase wear and tear in an area that’s already the most mobile part of your spine. If you have correct alignment, you’ll be freeing up your muscles so they can lend more support to your spine.
Kicks Off a Domino Effect
If you routinely stretch your knee muscles beyond their normal range of motion, you’ll be setting off a sort of domino effect. When the affected joint is the knee, your shin bone will move backward and fall out of natural alignment with your foot and ankle. Because a hyperextended knee moves certain bones below it backward, it’s less likely there will be a successful transfer of weight from the spine down to the feet. The tibia, fibula, and femur also move backward when the knee is hyperextended, putting the femur on top of the thigh. The thigh then pulls the pelvis along with it. The resulting motion throws off the spine’s alignment.
Shifts Pelvic Alignment
The spine’s alignment is also highly dependent on the position of the pelvis. If you’re habitually hyperextending your knees, it becomes more difficult to achieve the correct alignment. There are many activities and actions that can result in hyperextended knees, some of which include:
• Repetitive work-related tasks
• Incorrect form and technique while participating in sports that involve leg/knee motions
• Not performing certain exercises correctly
• Lifting heavy objects incorrectly
• Sitting incorrectly in a chair for several hours
Subtly Affects the Spine Over the Years
The result of years of knee hyperextension is a subtle compression that can extend from the lower (lumbar) spine to the upper back and cervical spine (neck). You probably won’t notice the impact of this subtle misalignment, since it doesn’t have to be all that excessive to eventually affect your spine. Without realizing it, you could be increasing your odds of experiencing issues with:
• Muscle spasms affecting your lower back area
• Disc degeneration that may lead to disc herniation or slippage
• Spinal joint wear that could also affect your spine’s discs
• Nerve irritation, if added muscle strain results in inflammation
If the long-term effects of knee hyperextension are severe enough, they could require treatment that includes a surgical procedure, such as lumbar disc replacement. Santa Monica residents who suspect they have spinal conditions resulting from improper knee alignment should see their doctor to prevent long-lasting damage.
As long as we’re on the subject of poor posture and your spine, it can be just as helpful to be mindful of your positions as you stand, play sports, and sleep. If you need some help achieving the goal of taking pressure off your spine and the muscles that support it in some way, consider working with a physical therapist or trainer. You can even learn about correct posture by taking yoga or Pilates classes.
If you’re experiencing severe back pain, whether it’s due to knee hyperextension, poor posture, or any other cause, see a Santa Monica spine surgeon as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. The expert physicians at The Spine Institute have years of experience in diagnosing the various causes of back pain, and our state-of-the-art treatment techniques set the standard for the spinal health field. Call one of our knowledgeable representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.