One common complaint is that Saving My Knees doesn’t include knee exercises. There are a number of reasons why, and I thought they would be worth reviewing, so readers (or would-be readers) can appreciate that this wasn’t a gratuitous exclusion.
* I’m not a physical therapist or doctor, as I’ve said repeatedly. To me, once you start including pages and pages of knee exercises, that suggests the kind of authority of a professional who knows that exercises X and Y work. I don’t have that confidence, partly because I’m not a specialist in rehabbing bad knees.
* Saving My Knees was mostly my story -- with a lot of information and studies packed in, showing why what worked for me probably would work for a lot of people. And honestly, what worked best for me was nothing that came out of an exercise guide. I did a lot of slow walking -- and most people learn how to do that exercise by the age of 15 months.
* I like simple. I like an Occam’s razor type of approach. What’s the simplest way to achieve a desired result? I get a kick out of seeing physical therapists and personal trainers standing around swapping favorite stretches and exercises. God, there seem to be dozens and dozens of stretches alone. Seems complicated to me.
I’m well aware that the knee doesn’t bend and twist in a vacuum; it’s one piece of a complex biomechanical system. Still -- what if, with knee pain, the most important thing to focus on is your knees (not hips, gluteus, trunk, whatever)? What if your knees deserve 95 percent plus of your attention? What would happen if you just tried to focus on getting in lots of easy, beneficial motion and let your knees sort out the healing part?
That’s basically what I did.
* This may come as no surprise, but I’m not convinced that most knee exercises are that valuable anyway. I could be wrong but:
I remember Doug Kelsey making the statement that the health of cartilage can be improved, but the tissue adapts best under light loads and thousands of repetitions. Thinking about that really opened my eyes. Picture all the pages of knee exercises you’ve ever seen and ask yourself: How many of those could you do 3,000 times in a row? Or even 300 times in a row? I’m guessing roughly zero.
So where does that leave you?
Well, I’d say with a few high-repetition activities you probably don’t need instructions to know how to do.
Walking. Swimming. Cycling.
(All to be done gently, of course, at least initially.)
And if you don’t have the knee strength to do these, you can do modified versions: e.g., cycling backward or swimming with floatbands on your ankles (what I did). The key thing is getting in lots of easy repetitions without further injuring your knees.