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|Mon, 04-14-2003 - 11:39am|
About 16 months ago (at age 28) I was diagnosed with patellofemoral pain in both knees... the orthopedic surgeon told me that it was likely caused by a combination of old injury that wasn't treated properly, weak/underused quads/hamstrings, and a congenitally high-riding kneecap. I spent about 6 months doing exercises that he prescribed, esp. slow leg raises to target inner quads and inner thighs. During that time I went from horrible and debilitating pain to chronic dull pain that got worse when I did things like rise from a chair, go down stairs, etc. I was super careful not to do activities with any kind of impact, but walking seemed to help a lot.
Last summer I started doing strength training with a trainer (note: my insurance had lapsed at this point so I didn't have a PT, just a trainer at my gym who came highly recommended by a friend with bad knees). Together we worked out a weights routine for me that targeted the big muscle groups in my legs -- leg press, leg extension, leg curl, and the inner thigh machine (which normally I wouldn't bother with but it duplicates some of the leg lift exercises the doc had me doing but with more resistance). Squat were out since I can't squat to anywhere near 90 degrees without severe pain.
I worked with weights for about three months, and noticed slow improvement. Even when it was painful to do the exercises themselves, it was just the normal daily pain I had from going up and down stairs, etc. I felt better after exercising, never felt like I was overstressing my knees.
By the time I moved here (to Kosovo) in November 2002, my knees were feeling much better... but then it took me months before I found a decent gym and the pain crept back. Now I've been back on my weights for about a month and having intermittent success -- the more exercise I get, the better my knees feel, in general. I was just laid down for 3 days with the flu and boy, did they feel bad after 3 days in bed! But no big improvements, and I have some days where it's just as excruciating as ever.
There's no decent medical care here, and the trainers at my gym have no real credentials or training, just guys who have a lot of free time & are in really good shape. After being told that I didn't want to lift heavy weights or I'd "get big" (this when I wanted to go over 7 kilos for a bicep curl!) I don't trust their advice.
I've been doing some more reading about rehab exercises for this type of problem, and I'm starting to read some really conflicting things about the exercises I've been doing, esp. the leg extension machine. I'm starting to wonder if I'm not really helping the problem, and the gains I get from increased quad strength are undermined by exercises that put bad stress on my knees. I have read mixed things about doing squats, but I still can't squat worth a damn anyway so that might be a pipe dream.
Sorry for running on for SO long, but have any of you had to deal with this type of knee problem? Any idea what exercises are/are not recommended? I am loath to give up my current workout because I KNOW my leg muscles are in MUCH better shape than before (esp. the hamstrings), but then again, I don't want to exacerbate my problem with exercises that put the wrong kind of force on my knees.
Thanks so much for reading this far! I remain ever hopeful that with the right exercise (and some weight loss), I can get these cranky knees into shape!