Knee: Helpful muscles that I should know – “the knee bone connects to the wrist bone”?!

Off the back of the throwaway comment from the NHS ‘Specialist’ I decided to look up how my leg muscles actually work. However I don’t like gross pictures of the inside of legs and have a short attention span when it comes to medical names for stuff.

Which means that even before my knee failure, back when I could still run, I wasn’t overly into the mechanics of it, I wasn’t overly fussed what muscle connected to which other thingies, I just wanted them to work and for my IT band (aka Iliotibial band) to not get so darn tight!

However the internet tells me that the IT band is not simply one big muscle that happens to get tight and get annoying all by itself. It transpires to be made up for several muscles which join the party at various different points along the leg.

peanuts dinosaur

(Picture from

For the purposes of my limited attention span there are two key leg muscles towards the top of the IT band: the Gluteus Maximus (GM), aka the Butt, and Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL).

There is also one somewhere around/below the knee, the Tibialis Anterior (TA).

The Tensor Fascia Latae is the front (anterior) muscle on the thigh part of the leg and it joins the IT band from the hip along with the Butt – except the Butt joins from behind (weird that).

I then got very confused by the internet and concluded that basically the TFL and the Butt need to work against each other (but in a collaborative way) in order for the hip to be stable and reliable.

funny bones

Then the Tibialis Anterior (TA) links into the IT band from the front and is a big muscle near the shin and is apparently used by pretty much every leg movement ever.

My yoga teacher, the ‘Funny Bones’ books by Janet & Allan Ahlberg and the ‘Dem Bones’ song, tell me that everything is interconnected, therefore a stable hip must be good for the knee. A stable TA feeding into the IT band, which has also got the hip muscles linking in from the TFL and the Butt, must have some positive influence on what happens around the knee.

I did finally look up what the difference between hip adduction and hip abduction. Adduction is squeezing together motions, abduction is away. Abducting seems to tighten the IT band so is not my friend.

Really not sure how much of that actually went into my brain and I didn’t really find any exercises which is a shame as I probably need to search the internet some more now… plus there was that other throwaway comment about the correlation between core strength and knees.

Maybe another day.

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