By Dave Patania
Question: I am 52 years old and have cartilage degeneration in both knees. I enjoy playing softball and try to walk about 2 miles every day but still have a lot of pain. Are there any good strengthening exercises I can do or should I leave weights alone?
Answer: I would start by working with your doctor to draft a plan of action that will allow you to stay active yet as pain free as possible. I have worked with many people over the years and have found one thing to be true: If someone with a medical condition or injury wants to maintain physical activity of some sort, it can be done in most circumstances.
With regard to exercises, strength training moves or modified versions of them are frequently used to help people with degenerative problems. This is because it is important to keep surrounding muscles and connective tissues well-conditioned and strong so as to slow down or better manage the degenerative processes in a specific area of the body.
It is important to vary your exercise selections, duration and intensities to avoid aggravating your knees. Water-based exercise such as swimming, pool workouts and water aerobics are great because the body is buoyant in water, thus putting far less stress on your joints, muscles and connective tissues. There are even cool flotation gadgets that fit around your waist that will allow you run in a pool (even in deep water) without your head going under the water or your feet touching the bottom of the pool. This is great for avoiding any load-bearing stresses on your knees.
Don't forget body maintenance activities either. Body maintenance is when you properly warm up and stretch before exercise and cool down and stretch after, ice down or heat areas (depending on doctors' orders) after you exercise to increase recovery and a eat a healthy diet that provides you with the necessary nutrients for optimal health and healing.
Working with your doctor, various forms of strength training, body maintenance and aerobic activity is a potent combination that will go a long way in keeping you active for many years to come.
Contact personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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