Knee Therapy On The Mat

Knee Therapy On The Mat.

During the past couple of months I’ve been on an extended ‘road trip’ around North America…

I spent some time in Asheville, NC; Toronto, Canada; Kalamazoo, MI; Salt Lake City, UT; Reno, NV; Oakland & San Francisco, CA; and most recently in Ames, IA…

While in Ames, I hung out with my Systema (The Russian Martial Art) buddy, Lance, who like most people in Systema, trained another style of martial arts previously. So Lance invited me to go to a Judo workout with the Iowa State Judo team.

Now there was a time in my life, before I blew out my left knee, all I could do was eat, sleep, and breathe Judo. It was my passion and all I could think about 24/7. That really changed for me when I tore the (ACL) ligament in my left knee in 1998.

I still loved Judo but realized it was not sustainable. What I mean by this is Judo is very abusive on the body. I would look at the “old black belts” who couldn’t kneel and had so many knee, hip, back, and shoulder problems; I saw the “writing on the wall.” If I wanted to live pain free, and have full flexibility in all my joints, I knew that Judo was NOT going to get me there no matter how much I loved it. This brings me to around 2004 or 2005 which was pretty much the last time I put on a Judo gi and went out on the mat to train.

Fast forward to October 2011 and I’m looking at Lance holding a Judo gi out to me saying, “Are you ready to go to practice?”

So there I was, 6 or 7 years later training, with guys who are half my age and you know what I found out? I felt smoother and better than I remember feeling the last time I stepped out on the mat.

All of my throws were working and they felt GREAT! I probably didn’t mention this before, I love throwing people. I talked about this with Lance after practice and there’s something about a perfectly executed throw that feels incredible and is an absolute work of art.

I also was so pleased with how my legs felt, light and strong, and I realized that all the work I’d done to get to this point had all taken place when I wasn’t training Judo.

A friend shared a quote with me, “The path to success is not direct,” which I found to be so true in this case with Judo, and when I work with clients with regards to knee pain.

Being successful with knee therapy, and going directly at knee pain, is not going get you where you want to go. In order to have a successful outcome with your knee therapy you must setup the conditions with everything else in your life so getting out of knee pain just happens. You don’t need to think about it, or really do anything else.

I’m talking about clean water, proper stretching, clean food, proper breathing, and lastly proper exercise; pretty much in that order. When all of these are put in place correctly with the proper timing, before you know it, you’re moving freely in your body and not thinking about your knees anymore.

Unfortunately, most knee therapies focus on the knee pain and how to strengthen the muscles in the legs with the hopes of getting rid of your knee pain. Most of the time this approach fails miserably because you are going straight at the problem. None of the other conditions are being met so your body cannot begin to heal what is going on with your knees. YOU HAVE TO SET IN PLACE THE CONDITIONS WHICH HELP YOUR KNEES TO HEAL.

So next time you find yourself in front of your doctor or your physical therapist, ask them questions on other aspects of your life that you can change, to setup the conditions, so your body can heal what is going on with your knees.

Then maybe I’ll see you on the mat!

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Hi Bill, I have struggled with knee pain for about a decade now. Since a knee to knee collision during a game of kickball, my knee has never been the same. It progressively got worse through my high school years. By my senior year I walked with a limp and favored my right leg because my left often gave out from underneath me at random times. My knee felt so unstable I was just waiting for the day that my knee would blow out during a soccer match or practice. The only relief I’ve ever received was temporary and came… Read more »


I’m a 17 year old girl and have had bilateral knee pain for three and a half years that they can’t firmly diagnose. Tonight it was worse than it had ever has been and I went on youtube looking at videos and came upon one of your video about the IT Band (which I’m definitely going to try). My karate instructor recently decided that the outside of my leg and hip was too tight but wasn’t sure how to have me loosen it (he has a new theory every week). He has been trying to help me with my knees… Read more »

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