My most recent knee adventure began when my border collie hit my leg going full speed on his way to his frisbee. At first, I thought I would only have a nasty bruise, but after my race that Saturday, my knee started to feel sore and it became worse until I knew I was in trouble.
Being an avid runner, I wanted to find the best way to rehabilitate my knee, but I had a feeling I would have to go through the same steps I went through when I strained my knee ten years ago. At that point, I went to the orthopedist who told me runners were crazy, sent me for an mri and then 6 weeks of physical therapy. This time I did it a little backwards. I started physical therapy and eventually went to the orthopedist, but this time the mri said I had a meniscus tear and a baker’s cyst. I am finally close to the end of my knee rehabilitation, so let me tell you what worked for me. These are recommendations from doctors, physical therapists, and a note about mental health from me.
Everyone who was helping me heal said to keep moving in order to keep the blood flowing. I know some people think they should rest the knee, and of course you should not push through pain, but there are still exercises you can do. I walked, did the elliptical, biked, and did weights. I rode my bike slowly enough that my legs had to work harder instead of letting momentum let me cruise.
I was told to do exercises that strengthened the muscles around the knee. My orthopedist said that leg extensions are the most important, so I make them part of my daily routine. My physical therapist said to also do leg curls, squats, and lunges. It’s a good idea to buy exercise bands because it will be important to strengthen your hips and the bands can do that with leg raises, bridges, and just walking with them.Ice the knee when you can, find a wrap that is comfortable, and keep the knee elevated when possible. There are many types of knee sleeves, but for me an old fashioned ace bandage was the most comfortable. Kt sports tape is also great to support the knee.
I think it is also helpful to drink lots of water.
I would like to talk about the mental component of rehabbing. There are going to be days when you are frustrated because you don’t feel that you are healing fast enough, and you will have days when you think your knee is worse. i found myself asking if I would run again, but I am happy to say that I am easing back in to running. Believe that you can come back stronger, and keep adjusting your program until you find what works.