When us skiers hear the word joint, what do we think? No, not weed! The joints I most often hear about when it comes to skiing are the hip and knee joints. Both sets of joints are essential to us as skiers. In this case the joint most on my mind is my left knee.
If you follow me on Twitter (@WisSkier) you may have picked up on me whining about my left knee. It started aching some years ago, I went into see a doctor about last year and he diagnosed me with osteoarthritis and synnovitis. He then pumped the knee full of some sort of stuff and overnight the ached mostly disappeared. Eventually I regained confidence in the knee. However, last last July seemingly overnight the aches returned full-on.
Fortunately, I had already booked an appointment with Advanced Physical Therapy to see what they could do. In short, they prescribed to me a set of exercises and stretches to start with. None of the exercises required going to a gym. So I started off doing them at home. I had some follow up visits and my therapist added exercises and I did them.
The PT then had me do some exercises that I thought would be painful. Much to my surprise they were not. I am talking about simple leg presses (on a “machine”) and squats. It turns out I could do them without any knee ache. So then that was added to my routine. I tried to come up with a way to do these at home (I’m talking about the leg press) with my resistance band set, but could not come up with an adequate exercise.
As I was doing all of that I noticed an improvement in my knee flexibility and the ache. The improvements were discernible but not major, still encouraging. I visited the PT again and Bill suggested some additions to my routine and finally the message got through, I should start visiting the YMCA again.
Night and Day
Once I started up again at the Y and doing legitimate leg presses on a machine the gradual improvement turned to a very distinct and rapid improvement. I even started to add box jumps and wall sits to the routine (albeit the low box) and all is better and encouraging! I added some other weight machines to my routine and I will continue with those.
I now walk without limping or a very minor limp. In addition, I have other aches and pains that are disappearing. I’m once again optimistic I will be able to ski with confidence again.
While I spend lots of time training I’ve been laser focused on building my endurance and cycling power. In doing so, I’ve ignored lots of advice on strength training. When I went in for a bike fit last summer, the bike fitter brought that up – especially as an “aging athlete” strength training becomes even more important. I am also a software developer spending much of my day seated and all of this leads to a perfect storm of knee, back, and hip problems.
The last thing changing with me is I have rededicated myself to weight loss. I am not obese but I am still overweight. Again, I’ve dropped 10-12 pounds from this time last year and I am striving to shed another 15 pounds before I go into maintenance mode.
My goal is not to become the next Lou Ferigno but I need to make sure my muscles are all strong enough and firing correctly to protect my joints. In addition, the strength will transfer to my cycling as well as my skiing. While the Dr. told me there is definitely damage to my left knee, I am confident with the training I am doing the damage will not interfere with my desire to be active outdoors.
Now go and workout your strength!