Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Dear Fun and Fit: A while back I had knee surgery, but I still want to work out even though exercise sometimes hurts. How do I protect my knees when participating in cardio activities, fitness classes, or walking downhill? Bob, Goleta, CA
Alexandra: Hi Bob. Would you like me to go into detail about strengthening up and stretching the muscles that support your slacker knees, including the much-forgotten VMO? No, that is not an insurance plan, that is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus, and yes, it is spelled like that. No body part with Latin in its description (that would apply to er, um, well, all of them) should have to live in pain. It’s all about balance.
Kymberly: Well, balance AND alignment. Our advice times twins is: Strengthen your quads. Do the same for your inner thighs and hamstrings so you stay balanced muscularly. Strengthen your anterior tibialis (shins) while you’re at it. Keep your knees tracking in line with your upper leg and lower leg, No turning your feet one way when your knees are pointing in another. And no turning your knees one way when your pelvic structure dictates something different. Got a compass so you can keep up with me and your pelvic structure?
When doing movements that locomote you forward or downhill, try to keep your knee above or behind your toes. Beware of all that forward and downward motion pushing your knees too far in front of your body and past the vertical plane of your feet. Otherwise you are putting a lot of pressure on the poor little kneecaps. Translation = knee pain.
Have you checked with your doctor whether wearing a knee brace or sport wrap might help? Options range from custom made, metal, hinging knee braces to those small strap bands. Both Alexandra and I have worn knee braces after similar reconstructive surgeries that ended our soccer careers. And by “careers,” we mean “having fun on the pitch.” Fortunately we can still teach fitness!
A: Why don’t you just hire a proxy to do your exercise activities? Save your knees for dancing at parties and asking forgiveness.
K: You know, I have to agree with Alexandra. Party on with protected and braced knees!
Readers: If you have knee pain that affects your workouts, how do you deal with it?
Disclosure: BetterBraces. com has compensated us for the links in this post. The opinions and suggestions are entirely ours, however. Tricky knees are all yours though, if you insist.
Photo credit: BetterBraces.com