Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Q: Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra
I am really trying to get into better shape. But all my joints ache. The worst are my knees. I work out on an elliptical trainer for 25 minutes and a spinning machine for 20 minutes and do 10 minutes of stretching to start each workout. I do this M/W/F. The other four days I deal with the pain. I am a 61-year-old male and I am trying to lose 25lbs. It is not fun and I am really hating the pain. What do I do?
K: Hey, I said it first!
A: I thought it first!
K and A: We thought it at the same time. Whoa! Twin telepathy. ……. Ahh haa haaa made you look.
K: Now that you wonder whether we really do have twin telepathy, I can tell you what Alexandra was thinking. Bupkus. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps really is the best option. If swimming is not a realistic option for whatever reason – no pool handy, hate to get wet, you only wear a bathing suit in the privacy of your bathtub–whatever–then we have to come up with more clever solutions.
A: Solution: Do something else.
Wow, that was a quick and short blog post. But since there is lots of white space left, and Kymberly whimpers if I get the last word, I’ll continue. Have you already ascertained that these machines are the best (meaning “most pain-free”) choice for your knees? How about the water aerobics in the pool? That is way easy on the joints, especially deep-water classes. First of all, the best type of pre-workout stretching is to do the movement you’re about to do. Huh, what? Who’s on first? What I mean is, I don’t know what kind of stretching you are doing, but the wrong kind could start you off on the wrong path (have you ever gotten lost on an elliptical?). Let’s say you decide to take my excellent pool class advice. The best warm-up for that is to get in the pool and move. Not stand still and clutch your foot to the back of your hind end (aka “gluteus attractivus”) for example.
K: Frank, are you sure it’s the cardio machines causing the pain and not the stretching? Without more detail about your stretching regimen it’s hard to tell what to suggest. Do you do any upper thigh strengthening (quads especially)? Put static stretching at the end or your workout. Add in some strength training for your legs twice a week. Make sure the seat of your spinning cycle is set high enough for your leg length. Nag, nag, nag. Lastly, given your goals, commitment and pain level, invest in a personal trainer for at least one month. Get your form, equipment settings, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy holding our feet to our gluteii attractivi (Latin plural for that technical word Alexandra made up above). The non-technical word for this position is the “Frank in Footer” ).
A: You are smart to choose relatively low-impact activities, as they are easier on the knees, yet since you are still in pain, I recommend the New Jersey approach and fuggedaboutit. I can tell by your frankness (ooh, that is a pun you have not heard in 61 years), that you are an outgoing guy, so why don’t you find a local gym with a “seniors” program (a euphemism for “anyone older than myself”) and take a group low-impact class? The variety of movement will decrease the potential for pain and the ever-so-enjoyable atmosphere will make your workout go by quicker. At the very least, you’ll still be in pain on the 4 non-exercise days, but it will be fun while you’re in class. And that’s an improvement. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously. Have you heard her jokes? Like an emery board on the ears. By the way, quit calling your wife “the pain.”
Readers: When exercise has been painful, what did you do about it? And do you think twins have telepathy with each other?