Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Exercising Through the Aches

I woke up this morning feeling down and sore, cold in my joints, just a bit off normal. It was cloudy, and the air was chilly in my room. I thought about popping a couple of Advil (which I haven’t done in months) and not work out since I promised myself that I’d listen to my body more closely in relation to how I exercise.

I had the last of the synovial fluid injections in my knees on Monday. Tuesday morning I walked to the polling place to vote and walked back home again. It was no more than an easy 10-minute walk max. I did no cardio Tuesday, but by noon, my knees were swollen like balloons. They didn’t really hurt, but they felt hot like they do when there’s fluid in there. It had to be due to the injections, but I didn’t understand the delayed reaction. I swear my knees have a mind of their own.


My knees (and a bit of my inner thigh skin – yummy! LOL). They’re ugly, but they’re all I’ve got.

I get sad when my knees swell up because I know eventually they need to be replaced. When they get swollen I wonder, “Is this it? Is this the beginning of the end of their natural life?”

When I’m sad, I’m more prone to pain, particularly overall joint pain. I don’t know what it is with arthritis and sadness, but man, when I’m sad, I ache. It’s a bitter catch-22.

What helps get me out of sadness most of the time? Exercise. I decided to not take Advil and to give the elliptical a try. Unlike walking, the elliptical is fairly easy on my knees. I started out slow, but surprisingly my knees didn’t hurt at all. I upped the intensity a little more, then a little more and a little more still until I was at my usual workout pace and I stayed there for 30 minutes. About halfway through, my mood completely changed and I felt happy again, mostly because my knees weren’t as screwed up as I thought. It’s now a few hours later and they’re still swollen, but they don’t hurt. Neither do my shoulders or feet or wrists. Exercise did what Advil would have done only without the stomach upset, the raised blood pressure and the water retention.

We all have achy days, physically and emotionally, when exercise is the LAST thing we want to do. So how do you challenge yourself to do it anyway? And does exercise help ease those symptoms? I hope I’m not the only one!

9 comments:

  1. Aw, Lynn. LMK if you need a good ortho surgeon referral in the Cleveland area!!

    It's all about the cardio for me; it seems to help me drop the most weight. I always dread running; the 5 minutes when I first wake up and try to talk myself out of exercising are the worst part of my day, but once I'm on the treadmill and moving I feel fine. And I never regret a workout after I'm done, that is for sure.

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  2. I think I'm like Oprah. I hate it every day. But this a.m. I was also hurting (sore muscles) and I wanted to not exercise. But I have another gal that I asked to be my exercise partner for just this very reason. I go because I know that she is expecting me, and I don't want to let her down. Otherwise I would just sleep in and try again another day.

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  3. I felt the same way today! I had a rough night of sleep and was just 'blah' when I woke up. I thought about skipping my work out. Contemplated doing my Jillian Michael's work out and kicked around the idea of staying in bed. But I knew if I didn't get moving that I would be sluggish and cranky all day. My solution? Took the dog for a walk! We walked for a 1/2 hour, I got some fresh air and was able to be outside before it started raining.

    Lynn you are an inspiration to me! Thanks for sharing your story :)

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  4. I really never have began a true love affair with exercise. I wished i was one of those people that enjoyed it. I do have back problems and the more weight i lose and the more regular i exercise the less my back hurts. I am not talking minor pains, i have had days where i literally could not stand up straight. Exercise does what a pain pill could never do. If people would do exercise instead of constantly reaching for pain pills they would find theirselves needing less pain pills. My dr. says America has a love affair with drugs. (prescription drugs) And that people are poisoning theirselves. No trying to O.D. but alot of people are popping 10-20 different kinds of pills a day and it is reacting to peoples health and bodies in very bad ways.

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  5. Hi Lynn, Well, I sure am relating to you today. Boy, it hurts just to look at your knees! I got the news from my doctor today that I have some 'narrowing and slippage' in the discs in my lower back, and have an appointment for p.t. next week. then on my walk at lunch break, i tripped and fell hard on one knee. Very discouraging to get all these injuries because exercise really does make me feel better. It encourages me just by the fact that I am able to do it. Recently I joined an online walking challenge, and that has been the greatest encouragement/motivator/accountability tool i have had in a long time. Also just plain fun. Reading your blog and others has been so encouraging to me also. THANKS!

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  6. I can't imagine life without exercise. I've had plantar fasciitis for the past 15 months, which has kept me from doing the thing I love best as much as I like--hiking the mountains and canyons of the West. However, the gym is a good alternative; although it doesn't provide sunshine, wildflowers, songbirds, and all the rest, it does improve outlook immeasurably. After my son suffered a mental breakdown, and I grew depressed myself, going to the gym was often the best part of my day, lifting my spirits and lightening my mood. Never underestimate the power of Endorphins!

    Last summer while backpacking in California's Sierra Nevada, my husband and I met a man who was doing a 200-mile thru-hike of the John Muir Trail--and this after knee replacement surgery. In fact, he'd put over 1,000 miles on his "new" knee and said it felt great.

    Here's to pain-free days for everyone.

    ~Shelley

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  7. Sometimes I have to just make a deal with myself such as "I'll just exercise 15 minutes", often I'll reach that 15 minutes and decide to stick with it. Yesterday I didn't feel like going to the gym, but once I got there I really didn't want to leave.

    Your knees look like they hurt, here's hoping that they don't.

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  8. I have found that a good workout, even light, affecting the area that really aches - definitely helps take the edge off.

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  9. Lynn, thanks so for sharing your "knees picture". I have lost 30 lbs and have a way to travel until I reach my goal. I keep holding back from walking because one knee has a tendency to swell. Well, I realize after reading your exercise info and experience that I'm letting this hold me back. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of this journey---and your beautiful, capable knees! I have spent the day celebrating my knees and my aches and pains as they are all part of moving forward as I get into better shape. I swim as much as possible which also helps my metabolism. Thanks again, you are an inspiration to me. Since you accomplished what you have, its means its possible for me to also loose 130 lbs!!! More to come

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