Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Back on an early morning in the first week of July I tried jogging. My left knee swelled up and became painful. This wasn't unexpected. It happens every few years.

I waited a few weeks until it healed and tried jogging again. This time the right knee swelled slightly and became tender. At this time I got the message. "Don't jog. Ever again. Or else!"

In October during a backpacking trip I was in the lead. We were just a few miles from the trailhead and had to climb a hill named "KA Hill", descend the other side and cross a small stream. I set a fast pace just to see if I could do it. Todd didn't complain so tempted cardiac arrest and pushed to the top of the hill over uneven ground littered with smalls stones that required uneven steps and twisting the foot left or right to avoid objects.

I've wondered what "KA" represents and I think I know because it kicked mine. A few days later both knees hurt and my left knee swelled. I tried my usual form of medical care -- ignore it -- but it didn't help. After about six weeks with no improvement I tried a second form of medical care -- consult the web oracle. I found a few exercises designed to strengthen leg muscles that support the knee. I began these exercises knowing they are a long term solution. At the same time I tried another fix.

A short time ago Julie and I bought a stationary bicycle since aerobic exercise in the winter is more difficult due to the short hours of daylight. I tried riding for 10 minutes at a relatively fast pace while ignoring my knee's complaints. The next morning my knee felt much better. Coincidence or cause/effect? The next night I rode for 30 minutes. Same results!

My left knee remains slightly swelled and tender but is much better. My right knee feels normal.

Julie and I have bicycles but mine isn't appropriately sized. I've thought about replacing the handlebars or the front stem to raise my posture. Now I'm considering replacing the bicycle.

I like this unexpected solution.


Blogger anonymous julie said...

Bicycles. The biggest factor in ride quality is tire width. A hybrid-width tire will provide a good combination of lower rolling resistance and comfort. But it also depends on how fast you ride. The other major factor in comfort is frame material. Aluminum, while lightweight, is "buzzy"... it has a harsh vibration. Steel is way softer. A steel touring bike might be a good option; the posture is more upright than a road bike, and it doesn't weigh a ton. If you can find a used one, so much the better. If you do go with an aluminum frame, a carbon fiber fork and seatpost will do wonders. All of this matters less if you like to bicycle at a pace only marginally faster than a walk, but it sounds like you're still going for fitness.

Knees: exercise. Running figure eights, both facing the direction you're running, and facing one direction, is also good for knee mobility. (I had an ACL replacement several years ago.) Cycling is good too.

Also, you can take ibuprofen to keep swelling and pain down. Probably you're not a fan... I'm not, either, but once in awhile it's like, okay body, I mean business. You can take four tablets twice a day (doubling the normal dose and taking it half as often)... they had me do that.

Another WONDERFUL thing for swelling is fresh ginger. I usually cut up a big chunk (over 1" diameter and 3-4" long)and steep it in hot water, squeeze in half a lemon, maybe some honey... and then eat the ginger once I drink the rest. This is also good for sinus-y things. It may in fact be magical.

12/10/2010 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger MojoMan said...

Check out Rivendell Bicycle Works online. Their bikes are beautiful and expensive but their site is chock full of all kinds of good information about bikes good for things other than racing.

12/15/2010 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger graceonline said...

Wonderful news. So glad you don't have to have surgery, which to my knowledge has not improved the knees of a single person I have known who had it. My yoga teaching daughter has given me a yoga exercise that helps my knees a great deal.

12/20/2010 06:25:00 PM  

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