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|Giving Your Knees What They Need:|
|Caring for Injured Knees|
If you believe you may have injured your knee, immediate attention is necessary. Take the following steps:
(Article continued below.)
That stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, which should be done for 48 to 72 hours
after the injury. Let the knee rest - don't try to walk on it. Use crutches if you have to. Don't walk
with the knee until you can do so without limping. Apply ice on the knee for 20 minutes three to four
times a day (stop if the skin turns blue or white). Actually, a bag of frozen peas does a great job
for this, if you don't have an ice bag handy. Never use heat - this will make your swelling worse. Use
compression - wrap the injured knee with an elastic bandage - firm, but not too tight. Elevate the
knee above the heart (obviously, this is best done lying down). This will help reduce swelling.
- See a doctor.
If your knee does not improve greatly within a couple of days, or if you heard a pop or a tear when
you injured it, if it swells or if you just know you've hurt it badly, see the doctor without delay.
Punctures and penetration injuries are also dangerous, because they can become easily infected. If
you are a very active individual you may want to see a physician who's a specialist in sports medicine
(if you don't know of one offhand, ask the sports department at your local high school or college for
a referral). You don't have to be an athlete or a professional dancer to benefit from this type of
doctor - you just have to care about being active. Sports medicine focuses on getting you healed
properly, then getting back to your exercise routine.
- Go slow, but do ease back into exercise.
Yes, it takes time to heal, but a knee injury doesn't have to be the death knell for being active.
Even if your injury requires surgery, exercise can and should be a part of your life. Many athletes
have knee surgery and continue their careers. You have a benefit over them because often they feel
pressured to jump back into their game too quickly. You can take your time - there isn't a team
depending on you. But don't take too much time. Focus at first on stretching and strengthening. Begin
with very simple, muscle building exercises for your legs - your doctor, or rehab trainer, will give
you suggestions. Start your favorite activities slowly and work at a comfortable pace. Don't push
yourself. You'll know you're getting back up to speed when you start forgetting about your knee. If
it shoots you a reminder, then it's time to slow down again. How long the rehab process takes depends
on the type of injury, how serious it is, and your level of fitness. If your injury has sent you to
the doctor, work closely with him or her to get back on your feet.
What if you're knees are already bad? If the very thought of squatting and lunging makes you hurt,
if running is agony, you have many exercise alternatives that don't stress your knees. Stationary
cycling is one option. So is swimming. In fact, many people with knee problems can get a cardio
workout in the pool. Find out if there are water aerobics classes available at the local Y or gym.
And just because you're knees aren't the best, it doesn't mean that your leg muscles have to atrophy.
You can still strengthen your leg muscles with non-weight bearing exercises. In fact, you may find
that this helps your knees. No matter what shape your knees are in, there's something you can do to
give them what they need.
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