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3

3 Exercises to Strengthen & Support the Knee

If you need to strengthen the muscles that support the knee, you’ll want to try these three knee exercises. No equipment is needed except your own determination. And possibly a mat or bed.

seated knee extensionI had a knee replaced a month ago, so need to retrain my muscles and knee to work together. Our mom is wary of falling, so she needs to keep her legs strong in order to get up and down safely. And some of our students are new to exercise and need some basic exercises that don’t require weights or a machine. Voila! These will help.


Straight Leg Raise
Tighten muscles on front of thigh, then lift leg 8-10 inches from the bed or mat, keeping knee locked. Note: For most exercises that we teach, we encourage our students to have a “soft,” slightly bent knee. This particular exercise does require the locked knee.

Terminal Knee Extension
In the video I am lying supine (on my back), but you can also prop yourself up on your elbows, as long as you lift the chest and lengthen the neck.
With the knee bent over a bolster (or pillows), straighten the knee by tightening the muscles on top of the thigh. Move only from the knee down, keeping the hips on the bed or mat, and the back of the knee on the bolster. Hold for 3 seconds if possible before lowering.

Seated Knee Extension
Sit with legs hanging off the side of a bed or chair, preferably without feet touching the floor. Tighten the muscles of the thigh, then bend at the knee to lift the lower leg up to a straight leg position. Keep the hips down.

Try to do 10 repetitions of each exercise. Once you’ve gotten that, add a second set of ten, with a short break in between sets.

3 Exercises to help strengthen & support the knee. #Exercise #FitFluential Click To Tweet

If you are recovering from knee replacement surgery as I am, you will promptly ice your knee and take a nap after these exercises. Oh, yes indeed.

Alexandra Williams, MA

8

Solving Knee Pain: What Is and Isn’t Working

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

What You do vs WHo You AreI knew I was facing at least two knee surgeries. What I wasn’t sure of was when. My plan was to stave off the knife and downtime for sometime in the next decade. (Read part one of my knee saga via this link). Turns out my right knee– the formerly “good” one– and two orthopedists have a different, sooner, hustle up, and “get the surgery over with” plan.

All the knee rehab in Santa Barbara is not going to repair two torn menisci. (I tore them teaching my Forever Fit Cardio class. I think the left knee got fed up pulling the load for the right, arthritic one and fired itself from overachiever duty mid-mambo).

Bad Timing of Rest vs Action

However the knee rehab and other protocols I have been trying ARE helping address the osteoarthritis. I am learning more every day about what a lifetime of being active, teaching fitness, and having a high pain threshold can do to knee joints. That last aspect — having a high pain threshold — does not pair well with thinking I can tough out any pain or solve swelling with ice and movement then ice and movement then ice and movement. Did you see the word “rest” anywhere in there? I kinda skipped that phase. Yeah, that lying around, not doing cardio and not teaching exercise part is hard for me. I fear that rest will lead to lethargy and the start of the end. And I don’t want freedom of movement to end. Anyway, ……

If you are also suffering from knee pain or wanting to avoid having knee issues, then limp along with me through some 7 discoveries.

  1. Straighten KneesSimple habits may be making your knees worse. For example, when sitting, do you tuck your legs under your chair? Oops. According to Rick Kaselj’s Fix My Knee Pain program (which I am following and encourage you to buy and try as well), those of us with knee problems are better served to extend our legs when sitting. So simple, but I had not known that!
  2. Physical therapy really does help … if you actually do the exercises! When I am at the physical therapist’s I overhear other patients through the non-soundproof curtains. Almost everyone in the areas next to me confesses to not keeping up with their rehab homework. I have been super faithful about doing my PT every day. While PT cannot heal the menisci tears, it does help with all the surrounding structures. For sure it is helping both with the current symptoms AND the causes. Knowing the causes of my knee issues is critical as I don’t want to go through surgery to repeat bad patterns.
  3. The chondroitin powder I am taking does not seem to be doing much. Everyone else I talk to swears by some sort of glucosamine or chondroitin. I will give this approach another month, then reasses.
  4. Indoor cycling as a substitute for step class is hit and miss. Sometimes I can ride and ride with no downside. Other times, my knee starts to hurt in minutes and swells up. Yes, I keep the tension low both times. Staying motivated to cycle on my own is hard for me as I prefer to work out with people, cues, and group energy.
  5. 20140829_115158Pool activities are Sah-weeet! When Alexandra and I were presenting wellness sessions at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite last weekend, I put myself through my own aerobic workouts in their pool. I got to go for it without aggravating my joints. So happy! Note to world – aqua aerobics is not a little old lady workout! It’s a way to add intensity without impact. And thanks to a nice neighbor who has a pool and generous heart, I am going to implement more water works … once her pool is a leeetle warmer.
  6. Water is your joints’ friend. Drink lots.

Sitting By Choice or By Necessity

My hope is to get this arthroscopic procedure scheduled asap, so I can get back at it asap! (Do you hear me, insurance people. Get those approvals rolling, please!). When the doctor told me I could stand for only 10 minutes per hour, I had to rethink my whole mindset. As a fitness professional, I know our nation sits too much and moves too little. But we all tend to be around those who are like us – similar values, habits, activities. (Hot tip — if you want to be more active, hang around active people). So I don’t interact with too many sedentary people. I have to admit, these two weeks of limited, painful movement is not making me more compassionate. It’s making me more uncomprehending of those who can move but choose not to.

Oh, and tip 7strengthen both your core and your glutes if you want to help your knees. Thinking that quad strength alone will protect those needy knees is too limited.

Bonus Tip: Read our posts, “Knights Who Say “Knee” and “What Can You Do When Your Joints Ache and Holler” for more knee solutions.

40

Knee Pain? Just Say No … Didn’t Work

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Knee Surgeries? Duck, Duck, Goose

inflamed footAccording to two doctors, I need three separate joint surgeries in 2015. My plan is to have zero. And there you have one of my primary New Year’s goals: to try all non-invasive options to rehab both knees and my foot. (Yes, for those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile, that identical twis sis of mine had left toe surgery for the same issue I now have on the right).

Over the next few months look for occasional posts that chronicle my efforts to reduce knee pain and get my active life back. My hope is that my successes, methods, and discoveries help those of you with similar pain.

Any other baby boomers out there with knee, toe, or other joint-related issues? Is osteoarthritis interfering with your life plan for active aging? This was not supposed to happen to me!! I want my life to expand with age, time, income, and experience, not contract.  After depositing in the exercise bank for more than 35 years, I was looking forward to withdrawing more movement, action, and adventure!

Poolside press up

No knees holding me back here..

Lakeside press up

Nor here

Kymberly presses up in CO

Nope, not here either.

After a physically challenging year with chronic pain and the ability to move less and less, it’s time to face reality: ignoring my knee and foot problems and powering through painful workouts just isn’t working any more. Maybe it never was, but I did keep teaching group exercise classes and walking my dog every day! Until a few weeks ago when I tore two menisci in my right knee — the “good” knee. The one that did not have two replacement surgeries already.

Do You Kneed This? I Do, Dang It!

Sooo, I am now starting several new approaches to get my athletic, energetic, comfortable giddy up gait back. These programs and methods include:

  • Starting Physical Therapy – traditional, medical model, science-based, personalized. Started two days ago and already feel optimistic. For one, my left knee is again smaller than my head. So long super sized swelling!
  • Following the Knee Injury Solution developed and offered via videos and written instruction by specialist Rick Kaselj – known and trusted fitness pro, colleague in the fitness industry, inexpensive program, easy to do at home. If you are interested to try his knee rehab program yourself, click the link. Low price, good value!
  • Performing stretches and movement tasks from Move Your DNA, a book by Katy Bowman, MS that looks at the subtle, yet important ways we need to rethink “exercise” and focus on “movement.”
  • Eating fewer foods that incite inflammation – waah haa as this will be the tough area for me.
  • Eating more foods that reduce inflammation – can and will do! For one, the Skinnylicious book Alexandra and I discovered will help with this as will the Knee Injury Solution program. Check out the cookbook by clicking the Skinnylicious link or by reading our post, Fitness, Weight Loss, and Nutrition in 2015.
  • Using glucosamine powder and homeopathic gel suggested by my chiropractor.
  • Getting on my husband’s spinning cycle daily to replace the other cardio activities I have had to cut back on. Low impact, medium intensity.

Doctor, Doctor, I Declare

Kymberly's foot points to a tiget track

Do Your Knees Track? (Do you see the tiger track my foot points to? Do you like my word play?) Oh Meow!

Whew! That’s a lot to take on. But I am determined and frankly, scared enough to try whatever it takes to get my walking and exercising juju back. My doctors have been great about listening to me and working with me to develop protocols to push off surgeries. Yet, my goal is to do MORE once I can walk again pain- and swelling-free. They keep trying to talk me into doing LESS, both now and post any surgery.

Other methods I have tried over the last two years have helped to a degree. I think those efforts gained me extra workouts and managed the pain. But not enough to prevent the recent downturns and tears. Read what I already implemented as you might want in on some o’ dat! Pain Free Movement in 2013

So strap in if you are interested to find out what works and what does not in my 2015 knee and foot joint reclamation project.

Affiliate disclosure: If you buy the Skinnylicious recipe book or Knee Rehab program through our links, we earn a few dollars at no added cost to you. Of course our main motive is to find, test, and curate the products and services best for active women over 50.