Let’s face it, our day-to-day routines are things we hardly think about in great detail. That’s why they’re called routine, and that’s why the word routine has taken on the meaning of “something done as a matter of course”, something not out of the ordinary. However, when these routines get interrupted, we start to miss them because we have gotten so used to the familiar and the comfortable. Chronic knee pain is a disrupter, a game changer, and it should absolutely be anything but routine.
Chronic knee pain, whether it’s because of an accident, or because of a matter of overuse or strain over time, injuries can cause a serious and sometimes lengthy disruption in the routines and lifestyles we have grown used to. As such, it can be difficult to get back on the horse afterwards. Knee injuries, in particular, can be rather challenging to come back from – we rarely pause to consider just how much is involved in how the knee joint system works, which is also how much can go wrong and how much functionality we can lose. As such, we rarely are able to completely grasp how to get each back into working form, and how to go from there.
Dealing With The Chronic Knee Pain: A Complicated Joint
The knee system is made up of a number of working parts, each contributing its own function in order to create a shock absorber-like system that supports your upper body’s weight across a variety of movements. The tibia and fibula, the patella, and layers of cartilage interact to create that system, with tendons, muscles and ligaments each playing their own role in making these parts move in concert. When cartilage thins or gets damaged, or when ligaments tear, the system is affected greatly in turn, and pain of varying degrees inevitably results. It can take time, sometimes a lot of time, for the body to knit itself back together and allow you to recover from the knee joint pain this causes. However, with rest and a good amount of low-impact high-repetition exercise, recovery is certainly possible in most cases.
Post Joint Pain – Easing Back Into Your Lifestyle
Let’s say, then, that you have managed to rehabilitate your knee and the joint pain causes have been dealt with. How do you ease back into the way you used to go about your life?
- Take your time. Even if the doctor says you’re a hundred percent ready to roll and you no longer feel chronic knee pain, you might experience some trepidation about throwing yourself back into the old routine, especially where activity and exercise is involved. Listen to this instinct and give your body a period of time to slowly acclimate back into the way it used to work before the chronic pain.
- Exercise. Odds are that the therapy you underwent involved exercise to some degree, which is sensible because it helps prevent future injury and helps the knee system strengthen itself to handle day-to-day demands more resiliently.
- Consider a water workout routine. Swimming is popular when it comes to therapy for knee pain because it gives the muscles something to work against – the water – without forcing the knees to take the brunt of the weight or pressure. You’re lighter in the water, too, and this basic quirk of physics will allow you to get your confidence and control back until you actually are ready for bigger and better tasks.
- Watch what you do. Design a workout routine that will not burn you out – 20 minutes a day is fine. Many people push themselves too hard even after an initial easing-in period, resulting in their bodies having difficulty meeting the demands – or, worse, re-injury.
- Get a friend involved. Friends can be fantastic motivators, starting with removing the stigma you might be associating with having been injured or having experienced chronic pain. There is absolutely nothing negative that should be associated with it, but we sometimes irrationally pigeonhole ourselves into such a mindset – we’re old, we’re infirm, and other nonsense. A friend will be there as a motivator and a sounding board. Furthermore, a friend will make for a good spotter when we’re working out, adding another layer of prevention against re-injury.
- Keep the momentum up. Give yourself some time each day and each week to keep your exercise routine going. If you miss a day, just catch up the next day but don’t double the next workout. Feel free to compare your old condition with the one you’re in after a good amount of time working out and getting back into the groove, and you may see some really positive results that will make you feel good about your progress.
- Outside of exercise, some healthy introspection will be helpful. Take a good look at the old lifestyle you were used to before the knee pain injury occured and evaluate how much of it you can realistically hold on to or get back – and don’t sell yourself short in doing so. Will you need to make certain modifications, as per your doctor’s advice, to keep doing what you do? If so, and if these modifications are ones you are comfortable with, then consider them. After all, it’s your life, and injuries and such need not keep you from living it the way you want to live it. On the other hand, if your mind is open to bigger changes that may result from your new situation and your new needs, don’t be afraid to consider that too. Change is often a precursor of growth, but only if we treat it as such.
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