Health / Physical

Gaining strength

Today I had an appointment with my physiotherapist. It has been two months since I started doing exercises to get my knee back up to speed, and I’ve had a couple of sessions already. Slowly, my knee is returning to normal. When I first visited the physiotherapist, he diagnosed me with both a torn hamstring and patellofemoral pain syndrome. The latter is a condition in which the kneecap (the patella) is not moving properly in its groove, which causes pain and problems with stretching and bending the knee.

The kneecap is pulled into the joint, causing pain

The physiotherapist gave me a set of exercises designed to strengthen my muscles, as well as some exercises to stretch . Basically, the muscles on the back of my leg were pulling too much, partially because of the tear in the hamstring, causing the kneecap to be pulled tighter, and not able to move smoothly anymore. To counteract this, the muscles on the front had to become stronger, and I had to do stretching exercises for the muscles on the back.

I had to do the exercises every other day and soon I started to notice improvements. Walking the stairs, getting up from my chair, riding my bicycle, it all went from almost impossible to more or less pain free and relatively easy. Recently, I was even able to perform a short jog to catch the train. I felt some pain the next day, but it’s good to know that I can run in an emergency…

So in today’s appointment, we talked about the next steps. He trusts me to do the exercises properly, so I can continue those on my own. My right (problem) kneecap was moving more smoothly than my left now! Now that I have basic muscle and coordination back, I can start building my strength from here. Next week I have an appointment with the orthopedist again to evaluate my progress, and that will probably be okay as well. The hamstring seems fine and the patellofemoral pain syndrome is almost gone.

I have to continue doing the exercises every other day for at least another month, or longer, until I have the muscle strength that I want. After that, I’ll have to keep doing them twice a week to make sure that my knee stays okay. I can also start doing yoga again (yay!), as long as I take into account that I can’t do poses that require bending the knee too far or for a long time, or resting on my knees. Basically, I have a handicap now. I never really thought about it that way, but the physiotherapist made sure that I realise this now and act accordingly. So I’ll take extra good care of it. With some help from Freya, of course. She finds my exercises very interesting.

Overseer Freya

The exercise in the picture is unofficially called the “rotzak” (bastard, scoundrel). You stand on the stairs with the weaker leg and step down with your other leg, bending the weak knee. Ouch, that one still hurts!

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