More than a few friends have watched me go through knee replacement surgery and recovery with the thought that they want to avoid this in their life.
I get that.
If you’re at the stage I was at that I couldn’t walk around a grocery store, and you’ve tried years and years of shots and physio and braces, then knee surgery is necessary. Once you’re at that point, I don’t think avoiding knee surgery is possible.
I also don’t think it’s worth putting off until 70 when at 70 you’ll be doing it with years and years of inactivity behind you.
But how to avoid getting there in the first place?
Now, to be clear, I’m a PhD but I’m not a medical doctor. Everything you’re reading here is just based on my own reading and experience. YMMV and it’s always good to do your own research.
The causes of knee osteoarthritis are many. And they’re mostly things you can’t control. The list includes age, sex (more common in women than men), weight, prior injury, and genetics.
I sometimes wonder if there was a sport I shouldn’t have done because of knee injuries. Mostly I worry about soccer. But it’s unclear that I could have avoided this.
The single biggest thing you can do to help is strengthening the muscles that support the knee. I’ve been advising friends with minor knee aches and pains to take those pains seriously. You can read through by post blog posts to see that’s how things began with me. See a physiotherapist now and start a preventative routine. Physiotherapists are wonderful people and I think they’d love seeing patients interested in preventing future damage to their joints.
I’ve posted before about strengthening knees.
The good thing is that if you do end up losing the knee lottery and needing surgery, all of the knee strengthening is excellent prehab. There’s no downside to strong legs!
Here’s some of my favorite knee exercises:
One thought on “Knee strengthening, or how can I prevent this happening to me?”
Yes, getting a head start is a huge benefit. Obviously, there’s plenty of luck, good and bad, about all of our physical differences. You got the tougher luck; mine has been pretty good. I was diagnosed with stage 4 arthritis in one knee in 2013. I was 61, was training for an event known as “The Death Ride ” in California. The orthopedic guy didn’t think I should continue. My physical therapist just laughed at that. I have been working with him on & off ever since. Today I did a 10 mile climb; I plan to go to Maui in September with a couple of friends to ride up Haleakala, 36 miles, 10,000 feet; in 2015 I just barely finished the Death Ride (took 3 tries over 3 years, nothing to do with the knee). The knee has never been more than an annoyance, a minor discomfort. Partly luck, but I give tons of credit to the PT support and advice (my part is to follow it, not always fun).
I also have friends have needed joint replacement. Hard as those are, they are amazing once the recovery is complete. I am glad to live in a time when that’s an option. It’s a big part of why we can stay so active for so long.
Congratulations on all you have accomplished with your new knees!