Exercising With Knee Pain: Motion Is Lotion
I suffer from osteoarthritis in both my knees, and that means I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of things I love to do. I can’t play tennis, run races, or spend all day working in my garden anymore. But I do maintain a gratifying workout that builds muscle and doesn’t exert direct force on my knees. I feel that by exercising, I’m healing my knees little by little. When I get on the machines, I feel my joints loosening and imagine the fluid in my knees warming up. I call it “liquid healing.”
I go to the gym about four times a week, bright and early in the morning. It’s never easy to get up, but once I get there and get started on the machines, it’s such a relief. If you’re an exercise person, you know what I’m talking about. I feel rejuvenated and revitalized, and I lessen my knee pain!
My typical gym routine takes about an hour and 15 minutes. First, I’ll get on the stationary bike for 35 minutes or seven miles, whichever comes first. Then, I’ll move on to the elliptical or the treadmill and work out for 25 minutes. I don’t run on the treadmill, but I do try to walk as quickly as I can. Right now I walk at level four, which I’m proud of. Lastly, I turn to the weights section. I lift 50 pound weights with my arms and try to do 200 crunches. After I tire out my arms, I work out my legs on the leg press. I do 50 reps with 50 pound weights, and I can feel my knees strengthening. It’s tough, but once you get going, it’s not so bad.
My physical therapist has told me that if I’m beginning to feel any pain, I need to lessen my weights or just stop altogether. I’m making myself abide by those instructions, even though my instinct is to tell myself to feel the burn! But I don’t want to injure myself or make my knee situation worse, so I’m careful to not bite off more than I can chew.
Because I maintain a strict exercise regimen, I feel like I’m fighting off the knee pain bit by bit. I feel stronger and more energized, and I’m supporting my knees so I’ll still be able to exercise in 10 years.
Carol Scoggins is mother to two grown children and two stepchildren. Together, she and her husband, Dan, have four grandchildren. They live outside of Atlanta.
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