If you feel tired or sore in your knees when you start climbing up some flights of stairs, it could be a sign that your body has passed the peak condition and is going downhill.
We must bear in mind is that lower limbs are farthest away from the heart, making it more difficult for effective blood circulation. As a result, legs and feet are usually the first to suffer from problems due to the deficiency of vital energy Qi and nutrients over an extended period of time.
The knee joint is one of the strongest and most important joints, but it also happens to be most vulnerable to injuries.
Here, I outline a five-step Asian squatting exercise that can help strengthen your knees.
Westerners might find Chinese squat or Asian Squat — where feet, including the heel, are flat on the floor – difficult to do. However, with a bit of practice, it would not be impossible to master.
1. Learn the original position (picture 1): Bring the heels together and rest the weight of the body evenly on the heels and balls of both feet. Then lower your buttocks while bending your knees till you can’t go further down. Relax your muscles in your back and your legs. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth pushing out tension and tiredness.
2. Hold your breath. Bend your lower back slowly and lower your head to reach the lowest possible (picture 2). Then exhale through your mouth and lift your head and chin up to return to the original position as in step 1.
3. Place both hands on patellae, also known as the kneecaps. Straighten the knee joints while keeping the head down and lower back bent. Then return to the original position as in step 1. Repeat four times.
4. Maintain the original position as in step 1. Lift the heel up a bit so as to allow you to part the bent knees at maximum (picture 3) and then bring them together (picture 4). Straighten the knees but not fully. Do knee circle once in a clockwise direction, while keeping the head down and lower back bent (picture 5). Return to the original position. Repeat four to eight times slowly, depending on your physical strength. However, never do it more than eight times as it would hurt ligaments.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4. This time, do knee circle once in an anticlockwise direction. Again repeat four to eight times slowly.
6. Slowly straighten the knee joints and return to standing upright position.
In this exercise, curling up the body can improve one’s blood circulation from head to toe, while bending the knee joints and circling can improve the strength and elasticity of the joints and ligaments.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 15.
Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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