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Stop Squeezing Your Butt, Start Grabbing the Ground for Better Knees!

sandbag workouts

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration, DVRT Shoulder Course, DVRT Pelvic Control Course)


So yea! I am the worst patient ever, Josh will attest to that too (it doesn’t help when he has literally come out of neck surgery with NO pain killers!). He gives me a hard time because often as therapists we are the worst at taking care of ourselves. Ironic, isn’t it? In my case, I have been putting off getting my knee imaged for almost three years..I know! I am a physical therapist why would I not just get the dang thing looked at?! Well I am terrified of surgery, kind of crazy for someone like me to be so scared of something, and its not the actually surgery that scares me its the whole going under and all that stuff…but I digress that is for another time and place.

I am sure some of you are thinking, “can’t DVRT solve those problems?” Hey, we are the first to say that DVRT can’t cure everything and I actually think it is DVRT that has allowed me to keep training, hiking, and much more even though I have some “garbage” in my knees. 

I recently got to take DVRT Master, Cory Cripe, through some of the awesome hiking in Vegas! Yes, VEGAS!

What I am really trying to say is that I totally get what is is like to live with knee pain, it sucks! Even though I have ben able to do so many things, I am getting to the point where I actually stop and think is it worth it? How much pain will I be in after? I know I know! I should see the doc!

Heres the thing frustrating thing about knees, they are some of the most stupid joints in the body…they really are. They do exactly what the foot and hip tell it to do! The primary purpose of the knee is to simply absorb shock and propel us in space. So when we are dealing with knee pain we really should be looking at the hip and or foot to solve MOST of the issues, not all but most.

In my case I know I have bone chips floating around, but for many of you or your clients, they have this nondescript knee pain right? They do something, their knees hurt and they get the obligatory diagnosis of “arthritis”. Most of us as we age have some form of arthritis, that’s not the REALLY big issue. 

Let’s start with foot as I think we will address the hip in another blog post. I know a lot of people like the cue “squeeze the glutes” when performing things like squats or swings but the thing is, force comes from the ground up so we really need to cueing “push though the ground,” “grip the ground with your feet,” we really need to focus on the foot in order to get better engagement of the chain. Trust me it works, if I don’t my knees scream at me, and when I do, I am able to complete pain free squats…I could squeeze my butt all day long and it’s not going to do anything for my knees! I need to engage with the ground at the foot. 

Exercises like this may seem confusing what we are doing, but the band around the ankle helps the activation of the foot. Using the Ultimate Sandbag to require the body to “grab the ground” is key in helping people understand how to perform this “simple, but not easy” idea!

You have to understand that force comes in to our body typically through our feet first. If we aren’t familiar with having active feet, we cause a chain reaction of compensation that often ends up causing trouble guess where? Yup, those darn knees! The barefoot movement is right, but it isn’t about JUST being barefoot, it is about what do you DO with your feet when you are barefoot. 

Do you have to be barefoot to use these strategies? For some people maybe, especially if you are use to being severely detached from using your body. So what do I mean? Look below at some movements performed with the intent to improve that foot and ground engagement. 

Using bands for feedback is not a circus trick and I am not trying to make exercise hard or complicated, its quite the reverse, I am trying to make it pain free, enjoyable and easy! 

Sometimes we recommend good exercises, but we fail to explain people what makes them good. For example, step-ups are a great exercise for the foot/lower leg, knee, glutes, and core. However, when most people perform the step-up they aren’t told HOW to do it in a way to make it productive. This is an issue I know all too well! Step-ups are one of the things that will truly set my knee off but ironically they are part of my own rehab program due to the fact I MUST make sure that foot is gripping that step, it changes the whole movement! 

Being conscious of the foot may just take some of that pain away when you’re training next! The foot will also impact what we do with the hip so without realizing it, we already started addressing issues of hip control with better awareness of the feet. We will get more into that soon!

Check out Jessica’s great programs like DVRT Shoulder Course, DVRT Restoration, and DVRT Pelvic Control for 30% off with coupon code “thanks” HERE