I remember first experiencing knee pain when I went horseback riding a few years ago. I was only 21, but the strange position I had to put my knees in to straddle a horse was very uncomfortable for me. I didn’t really think anything of it, since it went away the next day. At that time in my life I was fairly fit. I visited a gym nearby and my body was in good physical condition and always had been for the most part. I could run for a half hour on a treadmill, followed by a half hour weight circuit, and I felt great. But then college and life got in the way and I didn’t have excuses to exercise, and going to the gym became irregular.
A few years went by and occasionally I noticed while walking down a flight of stairs I would get an unpleasant feeling in my right knee. It was a tightening sensation, and if I had a lot more stairs to go it would become quite painful to bend my leg. So sometimes I would take stairs one at a time. I also started to notice the same discomfort sitting in a movie theater for 1.5 plus hours. Walking down the stairs of the theater to leave made the pain worse. I didn’t notice until later, but my physical health had deteriorated. But then my life changed.
I moved to a walking city and had to walk to get to work every day! I started to feel fit again. Gradually I noticed I could do more stairs without feeling any pain. One day I was talking with a friend who had been doing some personal training for running. She told me that most people have weak muscles around their knees, and her trainer worked with her to strengthen these muscles so she wouldn’t get injured. And then it hit me. I was having knee pain from lack of exercise, and I needed to start doing strength training to keep it from happening again.
I wish my story was that simple. If I had stuck to an exercise routine maybe it would have, but work became stressful, and the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was go to the gym. I was much happier being a couch potato with a glass of wine after those stressful days. And then one beautiful fall afternoon I went hiking and realized I wasn’t as fit as I hoped. I was walking downhill and the tightness in my knee started to return and pain wasn’t more than a dozen steps behind.
Realizing I needed to do something didn’t help my cause. Soon after, due to circumstance I stopped walking regularly and what once was only knee pain turned into lower back and knee pain less than a year later. And coming back around is much harder. I try to exercise regularly but that has only put me in more pain. I experience pain when I’m sitting and even when I’m trying to sleep. I have found heating pads and Bayer help, and am hoping once my body adjusts and becomes stronger again from exercise the pain will go away. When that happens, I’ll be ready with a gym membership to prevent it from ever coming back.
What about you? Have you had a similar pain experience? What did you do to eliminate it?