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Bad knees and proper body mechanics?

nelnnel Posts: 402
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello again!
I am just wondering if I will ever be able to lift things again or if I need to rethink loads of the things I do. I really don't want to mess up my chance of escaping further surgery by doing something stupid.
So - when I was 17-18 I went a bit mental (teenage anxst or something) and swam loads and loads of breaststroke to keep thin (like 2 miles a day). This took its toll on my knees and I ended up with them sometimes just giving way. They are quite a bit better now, swimming crawl not breast stroke and I did do some weights classes for a while which strengthened the muscles around my knees.
Anyway they are still not great and all this squatting etc is really hard on them and they really hurt/ nearly give way sometimes. As a result I cannot lift anything from the floor that has any real weight. I know that at the moment I probably shouldn't lift anything too heavy any way (15 weeks post plif) but I am worried about how I will cope in the future.
So - any tips? Like how to lift a basket of wet washing off the floor etc? I only mean the usual day to day (woman's!!) jobs. Also how do you all manage to lift shopping in and out of the car without bending? Will I always need someone to help with the heavy stuff?
I am also guessing that once I start to feel better I am going to need to get back to my knee strengthening exercises. Just most of them put some pressure on your back. I have wondered a few times recently if my knees are the reason for my bad back. In as much as they haven't really been taking the impact of my steps for 17 years now so my poor discs have been doing it instead. I also know that breaststroke isn't great for your back so maybe it was a combination.


  • Hi Nel, just wanted to say hello. I have grade 3 of 4 knee degeneration so I'm just a little bit away from bone on bone. My knees ache and are weak. I've tried strengthening exercises with weights, but it made the joints worse. I guess I'm past the point of it being helpful. I've had two lumbar surgeries and it's been so hard. I'm a year out from my last one and it still aches. I can't squat because of my knees. I went to PT twice and they did show me the proper way of lifting the laundry basket.

    I just try to keep my laundry at waist level. When I drop something, I try and do the skater's pose, where you keep your trunk straight and one leg, throw the other leg straight back behind you and tilt down to swipe up whatever I dropped. Otherwise, I do bend and it causes more pain but there's no other option. I figure eventually I'll pop the rest of my discs that are still there as time goes by. I also know the scar tissue builds up as I keep irritating everything.

    Sorry I can't help. Have you been to PT after your surgery? They were very helpful and gave me printed exercises with positions to help. Most were showing where you poke out your bottom as you bend so that it keeps your back straighter and uses your hips more to bend instead of your back, but this does require bending the knees. Have you been to an orthopedic doc to get your knees checked out? Steriod shots help for a few weeks. Hope you find help and relief.
  • THis one might be a bit extreme but it would work. Find a really rich man and you will never have to do that stuff again!!!! lol
  • Skater's pose or Golfer's grab. Those work for me real well. If I have something to steady myself with, like a golfer does with a club when leaning over to pick up a ball or a tee, then it takes a lot of strain off my lower back and knees. I've only had one knee repaired and I try to keep from irritating it by keeping that leg as my balance leg that gets picked up off the ground when I reach down.

    It is important to keep a good balance between the calves, hamstrings and quadriceps in order to support your knee as best possible.

    I also have a full motion brace that can be set for any specific degree of flexion or extension. It is the same type that pro football players wear to protect their knees during the game. Based on the issue with my knee, the surgeon felt it was the best way to protect it from future injury, along with ensuring a balance between the 3 major muscle groups.

    As for lifting wet wash off the floor, I generally use something to grab it with and keep my laundry basket up off the floor and either on top of the dryer or on a chair.

  • Another option is to learn to keep the loads under ten pounds. Ask the bagger at the store to make each bag light. Take half a load of wash out at a time, and keep the basket at wasit-height to begin with. You need to start rethinking everything you do. There are almost always ways around doing anything.

    Now what you cannot do is plant a tree on your own...your days of moving furniture are over, etc. Keep your eyes open for children in the neighborhood who are big enough to help you, etc. Use your imagination! You will find ways around ever needing to lift anything heavy again...assuming you do not have toddlers!!
  • Thanks guys! It does seem like I thought then! I just have to rethink my methods and I will be ok! I do quite like the idea of finding a rich guy but my (not so rich one) will do for now!
    I will make sure that I make my shopping bags light and will get hubby to come with me when I need the heavy stuff. It is just frustarting to have to rely on him to do stuff - maybe because I can't just "pop out" for the things we need. I also start to feel a bit like a nag!
    I think I might already be doing the skaters' and golfers' poses! You just work these things out don't you.
    Laundry - duh! I just hadn't thought about getting it out of the machine a bit at a time! lol! I already had adjusted to having it at waist height since my disc went last april just hadn't extended that back to the point of removing it from the machine.
    I am learning to live with the dust bunnies - men must have selective vision to go with the selective hearing!
    I haven't ever seen anyone about my knees per se. I did see my GP when they first went bad but he said keep swimming - worst thing I could have done! I don't want anything done to them if I can help it. I might see about a bit of knee focussed physio rather than just back.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I have the same problem given a very problematic right knee (had more than 10 surgeries on that knee). I do the "golfer grab" like when they reach to get a ball. They do so by keeping the spine straight and lifting a leg and that has worked for me. After my upcoming surgery it will be my grabber that helps me. And I'm always going to have to keep loads below a certain weight. I buy anything that makes it better for my back (laundry bin on wheels, luggage that is the easiest to deal with ergonomically, inflatable pillows for travel/flying, etc)
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Seems quite a few of us also have dodgy knees - maybe there is something in my little theory!
    I will just keep being careful.
  • I still cant lift or bend. I have a grabber in my laundry room and one in the kitchen. It makes it easier if I drop things or I need to reach for something. I also keep laundry on a stool, like Gwennie said. I live in a small town, where they sack your groceries and take them to the car. They know I had back surgery and the checkers always tell the bag boys to keep them light. I do what Gwennie says and do small loads to carry and if it is to heavy, it stays in the car for Hubby to get when he gets home.
    I have learned to hire things done, or ask my grown children to do them for me when they come home. I feel like a invalid sometimes, but I will not do anything that would jepordise my fusion or the disc that aleady has issues. I do not want another fusion right away, and it has a tear, so I wont do things I shouldnt.
    You just have to learn how to adapt to a bad back. It doesnt mean you cant do things, you just have to rethink how to do them. During the day, if I cant do something, I wait for hubby to get home. I hate looking at things to get downstairs etc. but would rather do that than have to look at TV 24-7 for another six months.
    Grabbers are your best friend. You cant have too many of them. I had one and found that I was basically up a creek when I dropped it. Thus I got another one. Just the other day I got a third to put in the closet. That is how much I rely on them. I have also learned that my house will have more dust bunnies than it ever did before. And that I wont die if the bottom drawer of the dishdrawers dont get empty till hubby can do it.
    My husband has been totally wonderful to me through all of this, and that is probably the biggest key for me. I know he wants to do the things that hurt or bother me to do, and I have learned to accept the help and limitations I have. I also have learned that when I take my pain meds and cant drive, I can always call someone and they understand that I would do it if I could.
    I have also learned that I have to sometimes push myself, and sometimes I need to pull the reigns in. I find my good days, I do to much and then suffer then next two or three. So you learn to listen to your body and what it is telling you.
    Good Luck , Love, Robin
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