This week and next: a couple of stories from South Florida, where I spent a week on vacation. One is obviously about healing bad knees; the other is about the same, though not so obviously. They both are from the same long conversation I had with an old boyhood friend and his wife, on a pleasant, kickback Sunday afternoon, in a West Palm Beach condo overlooking a broad lake.
His wife -- whom I'll call "Sara," not having gotten permission to blog our conversation :) -- shared the two stories that I found so interesting. The first was, to me, a further validation of the message in Saving My Knees.
Sara is now in her 50s and naturally athletic. After I was done relating my experience with bad knees (the short version), she told me hers.
She had always been a walker, someone who went for the occasional long stroll, I presume. Then one day she decided to lift the level of her fitness. So she took up running. I'm not sure how intensely she plunged into the activity, but she overdid it, and soon had a swollen knee for her efforts.
Some time elapsed, and the knee wasn't getting better. Frustrated, she went to a chiropractor. This is where the story could've taken a wrong turn. The chiropractor could've given her some fancy mumble-jumble about her hip axis being out of alignment with her flexed knee joint blah blah blah. But instead she got some remarkably simple yet useful advice: try easy cycling.
So she began riding a stationary bike, five times a week, about 30 minutes a session. And she healed in -- take a guess. A month? Two months? Four months?
Nope. One year.
This is the Saving My Knees approach in a nutshell. Find a joint-friendly, high-repetition, gentle activity that your knees tolerate well (cycling in this case). Be prepared to do it for a while (a whole year for Sara!). And I would add, from my own experience (having had worse knees), your exercising should gradually -- ever so gradually -- get more vigorous. Strengthen those bad knees!
As a coda to this story: I asked Sara if she still exercised on the stationary bike, thinking that her healing may have impressed her so much that she acquired a good lifelong habit. Nope. Too boring. Which I understand completely, as someone who dislikes the stationary bike too. It's better to be out and about in the open air on a bicycle with wheels that move.
Of course I know most visitors to this blog have worse knees than Sara did. Still, it's important to note generally what works. And Sara's is definitely a success story.
Next week, Pt. II: Why you know more than your doctor.