#9 BUM KNEES & JOINTS
It occurs to me that a few comments directed at “older” men and women with knee and other joint problems may be in order. These comments are appropriate for all athletes, regardless of their age.
The problem with joint pain is that it’s very discouraging and feeds on itself. That is, when people have joint pain they tend to panic and commonly do one of three things: They attempt to “work through it;” they stop doing any activity at all; they visit a doctor. All may be appropriate, all have their problems. Here are my suggestions.
First of all, as with all treatment: do no harm. With this admonition in mind, a person with pain would do well to consider developing a sound weight-lifting program to increase both the strength and range of motion around the injury. If your doctor recommends a therapy program, do it. But remember, "If it causes severe pain, back off."
Regardless of the joint in question, begin with very light weights, perhaps 3 – 5 pounds. Ask yourself, “What motion can I perform that isn’t painful?” There are probably plenty, even after surgery. See Getting Stronger by Bill Pearls.
For instance, sitting on a bench, even a person with severe knee pain can probably find twenty leg, hip, back, arm and abdominal exercises that cause no pain (stiffness and discomfort are not the same as pain). These are the motions that need to be developed into a routine, six days a week, 30 minutes a day, alternating between stretching one day and lifting light weights the next. (Don’t do the same exercise every day. That may be the mistake that got you into this mess in the first place.)
As strength and range of motion increase, the weight of the weights may increase. Move through as full a range of motion as you are able, very slowly (count of ten up, count of ten down, eight repetitions per set, one to three sets). Moving slowly, through as full a range of motion as possible, is the key to successfully working muscles without strain or injury. See #6 WEIGHT TRAINING. Make sure you work through a full-range-of-motion, avoiding those spots where you enter pain. For stretching instruction, as always, see Stretching by Bob and Jean Anderson.
No matter how painful your injury may be, no matter how discouraged you may feel, you don’t want to stop working out. There are plenty of exercises you can do. Pick up those weights and stop making excuses. If you are able to swim, do it, but invest in a good pair of swimfins. Swimfins turn lousy swimmers into good swimmers and provide a great leg workout without the pain and injury associated with weight-bearing exercises.
The point is, I know there is plenty you can’t do, but what can you do? Do it! And, refer to the article on using poles, below.
I hope these comments help. If you need more help email me at email@example.com. Thanks for paying attention.