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Knee Jerking

Remember when you could refer to your knees as right and left rather than good and bad? Ah, those were the days!

If you live long enough and are active, you are likely to develop knee problems. If it isn’t knee difficulties, more than likely, hip problems. I’ve seriously considered making Wimpy Girl get-well cards for my pals who have had knee or hip replacements. There are a lot of them. I suppose it’s a rite of passage towards the golden years.

My hips are groovy. Maybe it’s because I was a “hippie” in the 70s, had monster babies (strong pelvis), or maybe I just got lucky. My right knee, on the other hand, is not so lucky. It has tormented me for the past 12 years. Way back, I went to see an orthopedic doctor, who told me that the cartilage between my upper and lower leg bones had deteriorated and that I should never run races or do heavy exercise that put direct pressure on my knee ever again. What???!!!!

After this diagnosis, I cried for a week. I moped around and felt sorry for myself, I resolved that this body belonged to ME and that I was not going to stop exercising. Please bear in mind, as I tell you about the things I’ve done to keep myself active and happy, that I’m not a doctor, that my knee still hurts me on some days more than others, and that I have yet to run a marathon. But I’ve discovered a few things that help me reduce and live with recurrent knee discomfort while also keeping me active.

If you don’t have knee problems, stop reading right now, shout “hallelujah,” thank your lucky stars, and go back to browsing social media or starting a new book. But if your knees give you grief, you might want to keep reading because some of this might help.

Lose Weight

I used to think that if I exercised like a fiend I could eat anything I wanted and never gain weight. Oh, contraire! It doesn’t work that way, especially after age 50.

Every time you stand up and walk, it puts pressure on your knees. According to experts, every excess pound that you carry around puts 4 extra pounds of pressure on your knees. If you are 10 pounds overweight, that is 40 extra pounds of pressure. And, if you are 40 pounds overweight, well, do the math. It’s easy to see why our knees wear out. Keeping a healthy weight is the kindest thing you can do for your knees.

So, I stopped eating pizza and fatty food and lost about 20 pounds. Amazingly, my knee started feeling better. Duh.

Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Oh, I’m not finished with the eating part.

Inflammation damages your joints. Processed foods, white flour, and sugar are just not joint-friendly. Dairy and eggs also contribute to inflammation.. You may be thinking, “Well, what’s left to eat then?” How about lots of fruits and veggies, beans, whole grains, and EIGHT GLASSES OF WATER A DAY? Also, onions and garlic, along with shallots and leeks help in reducing inflammation. Capt’n Clean and I eat a lot of chicken, fish, and lean pork. Maybe once a week we indulge in red meat.

Researchers at UCLA have discovered that a small glass of pomegranate juice drunk every day decreases inflammation by 18% and joint pain by more than 60% within three months. Pomegranate juice contains ellagic acid which is a natural anti-inflammatory. Hey, it tastes good too.

Supplement

I take turmeric and glucosamine regularly. I have just started taking cod liver oil (yes, my grandma would love it). One study found that one 1000 mg capsule a day reduces harmful enzymes that damage the cartilage in the joints.

Do Knee-Friendly Exercise

I used to run outdoors on a trail, about 25 miles per week. I loved it, but not so my knees. Nowadays I do the gym. I do at least 30 minutes each on the recumbent bike and the rowing machine. I love rowing! My legs get a good workout, and with resistance I can work up a sweat, and my knees are grateful. I used to also love water aerobics, but it is not offered anywhere close to us. Waaah!

At the gym, I still do at least 10 minutes on the treadmill with each workout, but I don’t “pound” it like I used to. We live in the downtown centro area of Morelia, Mexico, and since we don’t own a car, we walk everywhere we go. This includes our SmartFit gym. I guess I figure that if I overdo it on the treadmill, I might not be able to make it home!

Wear Good Shoes

Back in the olden days, I taught Jazzercise. The corporate offices suggested that we get new tennis shoes every two months. At first, I thought this was excessive, but over the years I’ve grown to appreciate the importance of wearing good exercise shoes. Also, did you know, that as you age, along with your ears and those annoying hairs on your chin, your feet grow? Women that wear high heels for years (yes, I was one of them too) also risk knee problems down the road. If you wear flat shoes that support you, your knees will appreciate it. Also, I go barefooted around the house, which reduces knee stress.

On days that I know we will be walking over 5 miles, I have my super spiffy knee brace to help a girl out. Everyone needs a little support now and then.

“Nowadays, I don’t usually roll a joint, but when I do, it’s my knee.” ~Wimpy Girl

Again, my knees still hurt sometimes, especially on the days that my FitBit tells me I’ve walked over 5 miles. But I figure that I wouldn’t have been able to walk those five miles if I didn’t show a little “knee love” in my day-to-day life. You can too.

“You can’t go through life allowing pain to dictate how you behave.” ~Adam Braverman

Don’t let your knees jerk you around. Go Wimpy Girl Go!

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This work by Anel “Pookie” Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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