Is knee pain inevitable?

For the first time since shoulder surgery in May, I went up strong and dunked with two hands yesterday. I was in a good mood all day after that. Yes, that's how awesome lame I am.

It was a big deal because I'm somewhere near the edge of down hill. Basketball, heavy lifting and most of the other things I like to do inflict far more impact than most 36 year old knees can take. I feel old man aches after over-doing it. 

The knees felt great for a few weeks after surgery forced a few weeks of rest upon me. No, I wasn't taking the post-op percocet. I should be thankful for the ability to move well at 36, perhaps stop with the high impact stuff while I'm ahead. Yeah, I'm going to seriously need a 12-step program for that. You don't just tell an addict to stop.

Runners run. Lifters lift. And so on and so forth. Because that's what they do. They will accept ache as the years wear on. Nobody ever said that basketball or tennis or jogging day in and day out was good for your knees.

Physical therapy is no magic bullet or miracle cure for the reality of time. It is no substitute for common sense or surgery or even ibuprofen. I would have to say that knee some degree of kneee pain is inevitable if you remain active like you're supposed to.

But I can tell you that many have some mechanical issue(s) that they can improve. It may be related to movement patterns, footwear, habits, or impaired strength, range of motion, and structural issues at other joints.

The knees usually take the brunt of dysfunction anywhere in the lower extremities because they are (1) weight bearing hinge joints with less degrees of freedom that (2) involve some of the strongest muscles with (3) the longest leverage in the body and (4) take on an insane amount of repetition.

If for any reason you walk down a flight of stairs with either foot turned out a bit too much, there's a significant amount of loaded twist and flex, twist and flex, grinding on your meniscus right there. And just last week I was able to help someone with knee pain by simply working on their gait pattern and first toe range of motion. They were habitually jogging around a problem they had ever since having surgery on their first toe.

Nobody runs or jumps or lifts or swims forever. But you often can delay the inevitable. You would be surprised what a little moderation in running and increased hip and core strengthening can do for the life of a runner. People with and without structural foot issues should be excited about what a shoe suited to their foot type and activity can accomplish.

And aging strength athletes? I'm sure I'll keep you posted. Today is deadlift day. No Advil today, I promise.

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