I received wonderful answers from this community regarding my question of rehabing arthritic knees – but I was being so unclear in how I asked the question – and now I have a follow up question. So I’d like to try this again…
I’m a professional theatre actor and I just completed a long production run of an incredibly physical musical onstage – during which I did not participate in my regular workout routines (the kick boxing and HIIT kinds), simply to make sure I could get through the run without an unrelated injury – when I’m performing in a show that is this physical, I lay off of strenuous exercise.
Apparently a piece of choreography I was doing during the run of the show caused me to have an arthritic (osteo) flare-up. I experienced a flare up a year ago in a similar situation and was able to get back to my routines within about a week after resting and babying them. And, after that flare, throughout the year I was able to participate in heavier impact exercises without any problems – I didn’t even have any flare-ups during the winter, which is usually the worst time for me!
So, I don’t doubt that my form during my heavier impact routines is fine – I work very hard on that, because I tend to be a very clumsy woman :). If I lower the impact, the exercise itself doesn’t hurt, it’s just I am unable to speed it up and can’t do the jumping or bouncing right now. I think I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to get back to the workouts I enjoy – those big sweat-fests!!
Since I wrote this original question, I’ve healed quite a bit, but do not feel confident in returning to the routines I enjoy. I am walking and swimming and doing some strength exercises. My question now is, while I’m healing to get back to my normal state, how can I get as big of a calorie burn? While I enjoy the walking and swimming, and while I’m going as hard as I can, I’m not getting that same high and energy burst, or raised heart rate, and the time I set aside for exercise has become a bit of a drag while I wait this out.
If anyone has any ideas of wonderful no-impact trainings I can do, I’d love to hear them! What a wonderful supportive community!!
>>>>>>>>>>My original question is below – I can see why most folks read it the way they did! So sorry to be confusing!:
I just closed a long run of a musical and my knees somehow got very stressed during the run. Usually after a couple of days of laying off and RICE I am able to ease back in and within a week I’m back to kickboxing and plyo. This time it seems to be taking a while for the strength to come back. Is there something more than the RICE and PT strength exercises I can be doing? How do I know there may be something more serious going on? THANKS!!
Hi Sara! You describe a situation I have faced often with some of my clients. With the limited information that I have here, AND without giving you specific exercise advice (since we are not in a trainer-client relationship; are those enough caveats? 🙂 I can tell you that I often use high-interval cycling training with clients with knee issues that preclude high-impact exercise. It’s a great way to raise the heart rate, increase calorie burn, and yet still do so in a low/no impact arena. I use this type of exercise myself. This exercise is performed on a stationary bike, and consists of alternating slower, steady-state riding with interspersed high-speed/high-intensity sprints. I usually vary the length of time of the high-speed intervals based on my client’s needs. For example, when I use this with a tennis player, I typically will have them perform anywhere from a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio to a 3:1 ratio; meaning if they sprint for 30 seconds they would typically follow that with a slower steady state cycling of 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes. They continue this cycle for a prescribed amount of TOTAL workout time (for example 20-minutes). Depending on my client’s physical condition we can perform this exercise routine using no additional resistance on the bike, low resistance or high resistance. If I’m doing this with someone with knee issues, I start with no resistance until we see how they react.
Ok, now comes my TRAINER’S ADVICE that I give to anyone — particularly someone that I have not personally seen. Please, please, please SEE YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDER BEFORE YOU TRY THIS, OR ANY OTHER EXERCISE SUGGESTED HERE OR ANYWHERE!!! Given that your “normal” routine gives you knee pain, I would highly recommend that you see your physician for an evaluation of your knees’ current condition and advice as to whether your practicing the type of high-impact exercise, that you describe as your normal routine, might have any long-term (or any for that matter) detrimental effects on your health or the health of your knees!
That’s it. I hope this gives you some food for thought. Again, this is NOT specific exercise advice to you, but is intended to give you an idea of possible options that are available.
I have two suggestions for you. However, I would prefer that you contact me to learn what the low impact options are. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] with your details and I’ll be sure to phone or email whichever you prefer.
Please know that I understand where you are coming from. From what I understand from your submission you love working out in an intense manner but don’t want the sweatfest to be at the expense of your knees as a consequence of the arthritis. At 46 years old I completely get it. You want to play hard but not feel it during the workout nor postworkout.
In closing Sara, I hope to hear from you.
In the meantime though,
going hard at it and having a blast doing it comes at a price. Trust me – this piece of insight comes from an ex-Squash player who had to be dragged off the court after the shoulders were screaming, and I did not want to hear. I know where you are, and I am sure that you feel that you cannot afford for your body to let you down because you rely on it for superb functioning.
I suggest that you first check with the doctor to make sure that you have not incurred an injury that needs additional attention.
Much as I hate to tell you: you need to replace the term ‘hard’ workout with ‘smart’ workout. Osteoarthritis can be masked successfully for a while with all kinds of medication but ultimately it cannot be ‘waited out’. You can wrap your knees and try to ‘play possum’ but you need to tend to your knees with proper strength training of all the muscles surrounding the knee to take the pressure off the joint.
You mention swimming and lament that you cannot get your heart rate up as high there as in your former workouts. Workouts in the water always create a lower heart rate response; there are several theories why that is: one is that the body does not have to work quite so hard to thermo-regulate, another, that the heart has to work less intense because the venous return is assisted. I now that my following suggestion sounds quaint because water exercises are – by reputation -only for those ‘over 70 or very overweight’. With water workouts YOU determine the intensity, and you can knock yourself out in the water it you give it your all.
I wish you all the best to find a path that is both healthful and enjoyable to you.