Exercise is hard. There are SO MANY rules. Stand this way. Bend that way. Don’t let your hips sink. Engage your core. Blah blah blah. I try to remember everything that I need to remember, but I sometimes literally can’t remember it all. It’s a bit annoying to me that holding my shoulders up affects the way my tibia rotates. I feel like there’s enough distance between those two points that I shouldn’t have to worry about a connection there. I pretty much always end up mumbling under my breath, “the head bone’s connected to the neck bone; the neck bone’s connected…”
Four weeks in, and I can humbly say that I’m thankful I did not try this on my own as my stubborn self planned to do prior to, and even during the first two days following, surgery. I can’t count the number of times that my PT has corrected my posture, stance or the muscles I’m engaging, even though I should be able to figure this out by now. Sometimes I can tell when things are going wrong, but often I don’t realize that my hips are misaligned or that my thigh has rotated. I’m better at recognizing what’s happening in my foot/ankle/knee than I am at recognizing what’s going wrong with my hips/core/upper body. Not sure why. That’s just the way it is.
As can happen with any recovery, and might just plain be expected with my track record, I had a small setback late last week. The knee apparently wasn’t ready to move ahead with some of the exercises that we had added the week before, and the pressure built as a response. The knee got really hot (like, radiating through my pants hot) and tight. I admittedly got a little scared and a lot frustrated because I’d been following my instructions to the letter. My PT is awesome, though, so when I sent her a panic-stricken email, she replied and talked me down from the ceiling.
My PT said yesterday that my knee is like a little dictator, and there’s no use arguing with it. I have to listen to it and obey. So we’re scaling back just slightly. Focusing primarily on the exercises that I can do with a straight leg.
Week Four/Five Exercises
Goal: Keep my weight off the front of the knee by avoiding leaning forward over the forefoot, avoiding bending the knee forward of the toes, and avoiding internal rotation of the thigh.
- Bike 10 minutes 4x/wk (down from every day)
- Straight leg raises, 4-ways with 5-10 lbs (you can see a video here)
- Standing leg circles and forward/backward swings (can’t find a video; I’m fairly certain PT just made this up)
- Seated march on stability ball (can’t find a video, but it’s easy to visualize; sit on a ball and alternately pick up your legs)
- Single-leg dead lift with kettle bell (you can see a video here)
- Side and reverse planks (side plank video here; reverse plank video here)
- Hamstring curls with stability ball (you can see a video here)
- Back extensions (you can see a video here)
- Decline sit-ups (you can see a video here)
See how most of these aren’t actually knee exercises? These are largely to work on my hips, glutes and CORE muscles. Fun times.
On an unrelated note, I have a lot of fun looking up videos for examples here. The exercise videos on YouTube can be a huge source of entertainment; there are some crazy people out there. Hilarious. Just hilarious.
In addition to the exercises listed above, I’ll be continuing with the shock therapy. Below is a video of the NMES in action. I took this on my phone about five or six months ago, but I couldn’t figure out how to post it here. This was the contraction I got with a level 4 setting. I’ve now doubled that and use it at the highest level (8). It’s a significant contraction and not entirely painless. Ignore the voices at the end; I’ve no clue what show I was watching on Netflix.
I feel like this is enough to keep me busy, and now that I typed it out, I’m not so certain we’ve actually cut back. Re-focused, sure. But there is still a lot of work to be done here. Since I had the tiny, little, almost-not-worth-mentioning setback, I have another PT appointment later this week to see if I’m making positive progress again. So I’d better get to it.