I’ve always had bad knees. I was a baseball catcher in my youth. I had my knee torn up in high school football. So I always expected to get old and creaky as I aged. And I have.
I’ve also been a runner since college. I have run 3-4 days a week since I was 20. So it was very disappointing to me a few years ago (when I was 46), when I was told that I had some good areas of cartilage missing from my knee joints. Over my entire running history, my knees felt much better when I was running on a regular schedule. Living in Michigan and then in New Hampshire, winter would come, and my knees would hurt, because I couldn’t get out and run. Then in the spring, after a few weeks of getting back in shape, they were fine again.
In addition, about 8 years ago, my knees started hurting every time I would sit for prolonged periods. I stopped wanting to go to movies and lectures and car rides, because at the end, I knew that my I would have shooting pains through my knees. Every time I got out of the car, I could barely walk.
So it was very disheartening a couple of years ago when the orthopedist told me that I should stop running, so that I would stop damaging my knees. I took her advice to heart and stopped running, but my knees didn’t stop hurting.
Even though I stopped running and started biking for exercise, my knees still hurt. However, I started to notice if I sat with my legs straight out, my knees didn’t hurt. So being a scientist, I started an experiment on myself this spring.
The experiment was to test whether it was sitting with bent legs that was the real problem causing my knee pain. Sure I have cartilage spots missing, my knees always felt good after running, and my knees always hurt after sitting. So I simply strarted sitting with my legs as straight out as possible. RIding in the car, I put the seat back as far as possible to get my legs as straight as possible.
My first little knee adventure in this experiment was driving from New Hampshire to New Jersey this spring. I drove the entire way with my legs completely straight. Everytime I stopped to get gas — NO PAIN!! Well, no pain in my knees. 😉
After this great success — no pain all the way to New Jersey and back — I decided I was onto something. I sat with legs out straight everywhere and no pain any day. Then this summer — the ultimate test — a driving trip to Iowa and back. No pain all the way there and back!
So I’m back from Iowa, and I tried to go out running one morning. My knees felt great!! So I waited a couple of days, and went again. It’s been two weeks now, and my knees feel great!
So my advice if you have bad knees, it’s the sitting! Find a position for sitting that don’t make your knees lock up. This simply inflames the tissue. And get out and run!