Strong knees and the ability to squat with ease are a reflection of our strength, agility, and vitality. I know from friends that many people are not doing the particular exercise that would be most beneficial in strengthening their knees. Many resist even trying to squat, not only because of pain, but mostly because of fear of the pain that squatting may cause. When I mentioned this to my long-time massage therapist, acupuncturist, and herbalist, Ajah Wolfe, he replied by saying the longer we go without doing things like squats due to pain or fear of pain, the worse off the knees will be. Knees, like any other body part that isn’t being “stretched” beyond its comfort zone, will initially be sore until they become stronger and accustomed to the new level of activity.
Popular young singers and dancers typically show off their youth by doing low squats in their dances while wearing heels. This, I wouldn’t recommend, but I mention it to make the point that squatting is a show of strength, agility, vitality, and something that you can get better at doing. However, you must begin somewhere; you must take that first step.
Two kinds of soreness occur from exercising your knees. One type develops from not having practiced squats or exercises, like Tai Chi or Qigong, which require some level of squatting. Once you begin squatting, you may experience varying levels of soreness which can be eased by taking hot baths with Epsom salt, by applying one of my favorite healing ointments like Arnica, Calendula, Tiger’s Balm, Zheng Gu Shu (liquid Chinese herbal spray) or use hot and cold packs, and by taking supplements like MSM or homeopathic Rhus Tox.
The other kind of pain can come from arthritis and degeneration of muscles, bones, and/or ligaments resulting in knee problems. Although they may hurt now, your knees will only get worse if you do nothing to strengthen them. If you have problems with your knees, I highly recommend that you meet with an orthopedic specialist or doctor to determine how to exercise in a way that will strengthen your knees so that you can always be independently mobile. In addition to treatments by your physician, you can use the soreness remedies recommended above and/or alternative natural treatments like acupuncture. Another option is to drink the ever-popular bone broth. Whatever you do, please get started. Save those knees.