I have referred to Rick Kaselj as the Godfather of Muscle Imbalances Revealed in the past, so I wanted to make sure I had his presentation as the grande finale in this review, so as to make some sort of reference to a Godfather series and having an ending that doesn’t completely suck.
Seriously Frankie Copolla?? You end one of the best stories ever with Michael Corleone sagging over dead in a courtyard by himself and a couple of dogs?!! And what the hell was with Sofia Copolla being in EVERY SCENE?!?!? She should be the main character’s dumpy friend at best!!!!!
So to conclude this epic 4-part series, I wanted to highlight some of the great content that Rick delivers on his presentation “Assessment & Exercise for Knee Injury Recovery.” Rick is a pretty unique guy who knows a thing or two about injury recovery from a personal trainer perspective, and I had the opportunity to work with him on the previous Muscle Imbalances Revealed seminars, as well on the Spinal Health and Core Training seminar we held in Edmonton this past June with Tony Gentilcore and Jeff Cubos. He runs a website called ExercisesForInjuries.com, so you should definitely check him out there too.
Rick starts off talking about the main structural features of the knee, which is always important to get a review of the anatomy of joints and biomechanics, as it’s something we as trainers constantly have to ingrain in our subconscious, and the more we review, the more we tend to find out about how the structures work, both under gravity and in isolation of any other forces. I’ve always felt any discussion on how to get any type of training response should begin with a discussion of relevant anatomy, as it sort of works as an introduction to a cool story, sort of like a back story for a really good comic book. Just seeing Batman kick ass and take names is awesome, but seeing how he developed into the cape and cowled crusader makes it even more salient, so understanding anatomy is always beneficial and creates better depth to any story of how the body works.
One interesting tidbit of info Rick shares is how important having full range of motion, specifically through extension is so important. A loss of only 10 degrees of extension can create a limp, which creates compensation patterns and additional problems through the entire kinetic chain. I can attest to that after working with a lot of clients in line to get knee replacements who have severe osteoarthritis. Their ability to get the knee to full extension is compromised, which means they are constantly using the soft tissue structures to support and stabilize instead of having bone-to-bone support and the screw-home mechanism of the knee. This additional pressure on the muscles is less than desirable, as any damage to the knee can cause the muscles to reduce their impulse, meaning the knee has less stability to it and there’s a greater risk of having the bones slip and slide, which increases the risk of injuring the meniscus and associated structures.
This loss of joint centration, to borrow a term from Charlie Weingroff, leads to erosion of the contact points, and eventually leads to knees looking something like this:
When we think of knee training, we commonly always look at quads and hamstrings, but Rick also showcases how important the calves are to knee function. Do a little test for me right now. Stand up (if possible where you are), and go through a little squat, maybe just a quarter squat. Now try to keep your foot on the ground and go through an ankle extension. I’m pretty sure that ankle extension also caused you to go through some knee extension too.
What this means is the calves are synergists to the quads in movements like squats, lunges, etc where there’s a closed chain movement. The cool thing about this is by working on calves to help take some of the load off the knee, you can get the knee extension without any of the shear forces to the knee that typically come with doing a quad dominant program. I use this with a lot of my knee issue clients with a lot of success, and would recommend anyone with knee issues to spend some time looking at training their calves. Rick also shows some dead sexy calves, which after consideration are quickly moving up the continuum from calves into the steers realm of size, and may eventually hit the point of being known as cattle. Well done, Rick.
Rick also points out that a knee issue is rarely simply just a knee injury, but something that affects the hip core, ankle, and pretty much every other joint that might involve motion through that knee. This is one reason why isolative knee exercises rarely provide any benefit in practice, despite what it may mean in theory. Viewing the body as a connective system instead of a random conglomeration of joints and muscles working in isolation helps get a trainer or a trainee into a better mindset of how to get some beneficial improvements in their programming, and this goes for knee injuries and pretty much every other type of program out there too.
Rick’s work on gaining active and passive range of motion through both flexion and extension is crucial for most people to understand when it comes to working with anyone with knee pain or knee issues. He gives so many progressions and regressions, using no equipment to a towel to a wall and an elastic that I have absolutely no doubt he spends most of his time simply training clients in a broom closet with only a single dangling incandescent bulb swinging softly to provide light. It’s probably only a 25 watt bulb too. Living and working in an environment like that forces someone to become very creative at coming up with exercises that are effective from both a space and cost basis.
To conclude, Rick did an excellent job at providing an overview of applicable assessments and corrective exercises to apply for anyone who may have issues with their knees. I would recommend before you work with anyone who has a knee issue to refer them out to a physio, chiropractor or GP to get a diagnosis and give you a direction on what you should work on prior to jumping in and training someone without knowing what they may have holding them back, but this will be the first resource you should look at once you get that diagnosis.
Today’s also the last day you can get Muscle Imbalances Revealed: Assessment and Exercise for the introductory price of $37 before the cost goes back up to $97, so you should definitely get your hands on this today. For the same cost as a week’s worth of grande latte’s, you can make yourself smarter, better, handsome-er, and intelligent-er for your clients and for your self, so get on it today!!