Knee Pain 101 {Weight Loss, Exercise, Sleep}

This one is a no brainer! The relationship between pain, weight gain, lack of exercise and lack of sleep is well established. I speak from experience when I say that I definitely gained weight after my injury because I was exhausted from constantly waking up at night because I either moved my knee the wrong way or it just started throbbing.  I also know that lack of energy and being so tired all the time makes any kind of exercise a chore. Lack of sleep affects so many other things and is a major part of a crazy weight gain cycle, especially when you add pain to the mix. Here are some articles that I found really interesting that touch on this topic:

Weight Loss

This is a tough one. I have struggled with weight for many years, but since my injury, it’s been extra hard. It’s not that I don’t eat well, because I do; it has to do with portion control, knowing when I’m full and knowing when to walk away. So what am I doing? Here are some strategies I am currently following:

  • Set short term goals that are attainable
  • Follow the Canada Food Guide
  • Increase my water intake
  • Practice portion control
  • Keep a food diary

I figure that by at least following these 5 strategies, I am off to a good start.  I’ve learned from past failures, that if I get too ambitious, my expectations get in the way of unrealistic goals that leads to disappointing results and giving up.  Another thing I’m not doing is cutting things completely out of my diet. If I want a glass of wine, I will have one—-just not the whole bottle!  I am also much more careful what I buy when out grocery shopping by making sure to read labels especially sugar and fat amounts and checking the “best before” date.

The new Canada Food Guide has links to some good information for sensible eating. I have great motivation to lose weight: putting less weight on my weight-bearing joints = less pain on those joints = better movement = better quality of life!!

 

Exercise

I love to power walk in the mornings, especially to the beat of my workout playlist! Unfortunately, you can’t power walk to lose weight if your knee hurts.  Luckily, last fall I was very fortunate to be referred to an exercise  program run by GLA:D CANADA that specifically targets arthritis in the knees and hips. This program is amazing.  It ran for 8 weeks and during that time, I noticed a big improvement in my pain levels.  By strengthening my legs, back and core, the benefits to my body has given me hope that I will be able to get back to walking my old route without pain. Hurray!!

The strengthening exercises I learned at GLA:D made me a great believer of the mantra that “if you don’t use it, you lose it”.  The difference between my pain level then and now is remarkable.  I can now walk relatively pain free in both my knee and the groin area. The annoyance of waking up with pain is gone. I am a believer!  So if your knee is hurting either because of injury or arthritis, try the exercises below.  I have since set up my own workout area at home with the most basic equipment: a chair, resistance bands and a yoga mat. It is important to warm up for at least 10 minutes before starting.

  • Sit to Stand – Whether you are a senior or just anyone with a knee problem, this exercise is great. It’s considered a functional exercise because it strengthens legs, the core, and back muscles. For people like me, this is really important because these muscles are needed for increased mobility and independence of movement. I also like it because the only equipment you need is a chair!
  • Stair Climbing -Stairs are everywhere, so strengthening the muscles around the knee will decrease the stress on the joint itself. These muscles include the hamstrings at the back of the thigh and the quadriceps at the front of the thigh. I was lucky that I still had an aerobic step (from a previous exercise program I was in) lying around the house that goes from 2-6″.  If you don’t have one, you can either make one or buy one similar to mine on Amazon. I also use a chair when doing this exercise to keep my balance and form.
  • Pelvic Lift – This is an exercise to help strengthen the lower back, butt muscles, lower abdominal muscles. It is usually recommended to help reduce lower back pain, improve posture and maintain hip muscle balance. There are different variations to this to increase difficulty.  No specialized equipment needed for this.
  • Planks (wall and floor)
  • Hip Abductors (with resistance band and chair) – The goal of hip abduction is to improve the strength and flexibility of the hip. These muscles contribute to our ability to stand, walk and rotate our legs more easily.  Most importantly, besides toning your
  • Hip Adductors (with resistance band and chair) – The goal of hip abduction is to improve the strength and flexibility of the hip.
  • Knee Flexion —- These exercises strengthen the hamstring at the back of the thigh and the muscles around the knee to improve range of motion.
  • Knee Extension— These exercises strengthen the quadriceps in your thighs as well as your shin muscles.

Sleep

I can’t remember the last time I had full night’s sleep.  The problem seems to be that I can’t shut my mind down before I go to bed and menopause. Add pain to the mix and you have a perfect storm of no quality sleep.  There is no magic solution to get a good’s night sleep.  What works for one person, may not work for another.  When I googled ” how to get a good night’s sleep”, I was hoping for some light bulb moment. Since my knee pain has subsided substantially, I am sleeping better, but still wake up at least once during the night to use the bathroom. I’m hoping that as I gear up my exercise regime and drink more water, things will improve.  Here are a few links with some good strategies I found  and have been trying. I hope to do an update on this later to talk about what worked and what didn’t.

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information I am sharing is based on my own experiences and research and is for informational purposes only. All the views expressed are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.

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