The title of this post was a pun. If you’re a regular here, you know all about my knees and their lack of function. I‘ve honestly lamented them to heck and hope they stay there…there won’t be a lot of standing for me for a while. 😉
Since I’ve been living with these excruciating joint maladies for four months now, I’ve had to find some form of exercise to keep me sane. While I’m still not at optimum activity level, and on a “bad knee week” I barely move, much less exercise, necessity has driven me toward some creative solutions for my daily endorphin fix. I really, really wish I’d had someone to write this post for me when I was first injured, so I didn’t waste a few months of complete inactivity, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to exercise until the pain was completely gone!
*On that note, my little disclaimer here: I am not a certified or registered dietician, doctor, personal trainer, or anything. All “advice” taken from me is meant to be taken with a grain of salt! I could prove quite dangerous! If you are experiencing severe abnormal joint pain PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE consult whoever your regular physician is–“working through pain” is never a good idea. With my knees I try simply to work “around” already-diagnosed pain, because I have a doctor’s OK, and because I’ve found some exercises I can complete without aggravating it further. Stay safe, kids.*
The biggest shift in my exercise routine, post-injury, has been the transition from mainly cardio (running) to mainly strength training. I strength train almost every other day now, and while I don’t feel like it quite satisfies the runner’s need for cardio–the need to have your cheeks red and burning with your breath catching in your throat at the end of a workout, the need to push yourself faster and farther–it’s something. Problem is, the majority of colloquial strength training exercises involve weighted bending of the knees (squats, anyone? lunges? dips?), which, to put it mildly, would feel like a dagger being driven under my kneecap and twisting to pry the kneecap from the bone…SO I obviously needed a workaround. 🙂 Many of the exercises in my Bum Knee Workout have found their way into my regular strength-training routine, even though I don’t really perform the workout verbatum (can you perform a workout verbatum?) often. Bicep curls, for instance. Lots of work with the resistance band. My arms are getting a whole lot of focus in my training, but I’ve also shifted to include more ab work–planks, crunches, V-Ups, and the like. Check out the Fitnessista Ab Burners for quickie ab workouts when you don’t have enough time for a full sweat session!
Physical Therapy has been working on my leg strength–I only wish I’d started doing the exercises WAAY earlier. They’re simple–I’m doing leg raises, side leg raises, and bridges. All things that involve little or no bending of the knee or stress placed on the joint, and yet when done daily they’ve proven to be really effective at increasing muscle mass and toning. (Happy aside: during my session today I’ve been proclaimed as making mass improvements, and may be able to start up that introductory running routine as soon as two weeks after spring break! Gaah!) If you’re injured, building the strength in your quadriceps is really crucial in helping with alignment of the joints, and when you do get back to “regular” activity, a strong muscle will help you from placing so much stress on the joint. Three cheers for leg raises!
If you get bored of simple calisthenics, there are SOME mild forms of cardio us cripples can partake in. Hula hooping has proved pretty painless for me, plus it whittles your middle!–but I agree that you can only hoop for so long. 🙂 If you have access to some basic exercise tools, there’s always the WaveMaster (aka punching bag)
ready for a good pummeling when you are. Sure, you may not be able to kick, but you can probably get in some wicked uppercuts and practice your fighting stance. As a bonus, you feel beastly afterward.
Other simple weight training tools include inflatable exercise balls, dumbells (duh), and a weight cage with pull-up bar…maybe refrain from hack squats with iffy knees though. 😉
Oh, and don’t forget yoga! While you want to be careful of poses that aggravate your condition, (Warriors, Crescents and Dancer–I’m lookin’ at you) most yoga poses will provide a gentle stretch that, for me at least, has proven to be very therapeutic to ailing joints.
Any fellow cripples out there with advice to share with the group? If you remember one thing going into a sports-injury recovery period, I would say keep focused on doing your best NOW–not aggravating your condition, listening to your physical therapist, etc., and being patient with yourself (honestly, you’re not going to keep your chiseled abs with so few exercises available to you, sorry). But there’s certainly no harm in looking forward to the future when you’ll be back to full health! 🙂