Gentle Knee Stretches and Strengthening Exercises to Decrease Pain

Time to get my knees back into the game! Found some very gentle knee stretches and knee strengthening exercises on the Sparkspeople.com site.  I’ve supplemented their text with videos.

Knee Stretches

Chair knee extension: Sitting in a chair, rest your foot on another chair so the knee is slightly raised. Gently push the raised knee toward the floor using only leg muscles. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds and release. Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Heel slide knee extension: Lie on your back, with left knee bent and left foot flat on floor. Slowly slide the left heel away from your body so both legs are parallel. Hold for 5-10 seconds, return to starting position. Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Knee flexion: Sitting in a chair, loop a long towel under your foot (resting on the floor). Gently pull on the towel with both hands to bend the knee, raising your foot 4 – 5 inches off the floor. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Hamstring stretch: Standing, put one foot in front of you, toes up. With hands on the small of your back (or one hand holding a chair for balance), bend the opposite knee and hip (not your lower back), until you feel the hamstrings stretch. The upper body comes forward at the hip. Hold for 5 -10 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Knee Strengthening Exercises

  1. Wall slide: Leaning with your back against a wall, bend your knees 30°, sliding down the wall, then straighten up again. Move slowly and smoothly, using your hands on the wall for balance. Keep feet and legs parallel, and do not allow knees to go out over the toes. Repeat 5 -10 times.

    Wall Slides for Knees


  2. Straight-Leg Raises: Sitting in a chair, straighten one leg in the air (without locking the knee). Hold for about one minute. Bend your knee to lower the leg about halfway to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to starting position. Work up to 4 reps on each leg.

  1. Abductor Raise: Lie on your side, propped on one elbow. The leg on the floor bent, the other straight. Slowly lift the top leg, hold for 5 -10 seconds, then lower. (Ankle weights will increase the intensity). Do 1-3 sets with 12-15 repetitions each. Remember to rest in between sets.
  2. Hamstring Curl: Stand with the front of your thighs against a surface (a table or wall). Flex one knee up as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds, then lower slowly. If possible, do not touch the floor between repetitions. (Ankle weights will increase the intensity.) Do 1-3 sets with 12-15 repetitions each. Remember to rest in between sets.
  3. Step-Ups: Stand in front of a step, like a sturdy bench or stairs, about two feet high (or less if necessary). Step up onto the support, straighten your knees fully (without locking them) and step down. Maintain a steady pace. If you are comfortable with your balance, pump your arms while doing this exercise. Start with 1 minute, slowly building your time. Gets your heart pumping too!
  4. Stationary Bike: Biking is a good way to increase strength and range of motion. Make sure you have the right positioning of the legs. At the bottom of the pedal stroke, the bend in the knee should be 15 degrees. Start with 10 minutes and slowly increase your time.

Restarting Kickboxing Workouts

For the past few months, I have been working out with my Body Opponent Bag using the FigCentury BOB XL with Base is a full-size, life-like mannequin.ht Trainer app.  I had limited myself to only to boxing rounds but decided I would do a basic kickboxing training session today.

My warm up was 2 minutes of jump rope and the 10 minute workout I included under Guidance/Exercises on this site. (Do it twice and you’ll burn about 170 calories.)

Minutes: Combination Moves:
0:00–2:00 Jab, cross, hook, uppercut lead with left (30 seconds each)
2:00–4:00 Jab, cross, hook, uppercut lead with right (30 seconds each)
4:00–5:00 Front kick (30 seconds each, left and right)
5:00–6:00 Roundhouse kick (30 seconds each, left and right)
6:00–7:00 Side kick (30 seconds each, left and right)
7:00–7:30 Combination (left foot forward): Jab, (L), uppercut (R), Front kick  (L)
7:30–8:00 Combination (right foot forward): Jab, (R), uppercut (L), Front kick  (R)
8:00–8:30 Combination (left foot forward): Jab, (L), cross (R), Roundhouse kick (L)
8:30–9:00 Combination (right foot forward): Jab, (R), cross (L), Roundhouse kick (R)

I did the Fight Trainer basic kickboxing session at a really slow pace and was doing well.  Unfortunately, I realized that I completely forgot how to do a back kick!  Just in case anyone else wants to refresh her/his memory:

 

 

 

Strengthening Your Wrists

I’ve been feeling weakness and pain in my wrists these days, especially while playing tennis.  I found a couple of web sites that offer wrist strengthening exercises.

7 Exercises To Maximize Hand, Wrist, And Forearm Strength


It suggested the following to increase in the overall strength of your upper extremities will also help to improve your hand and wrist dexterity :

  1. Flex and extend all fingers, while making a complete fist for 30 seconds. Next, open and close your fingers do 2 sets of each for a total of a minute.
  2. Flex your wrist and hold in maximum flex for 30 seconds with the elbow straight but not locked.
  3. Extend your wrist with the elbow straight for 30 seconds. Do 2 sets for a total of 2 minutes. These initial three stretching exercises will prepare you for the more complex and more intense weight-bearing exercises to optimize muscular development and the strength of the forearm.
  4. Seated Wrist Hammer Curls – In a seated position with your back straight, place your forearm on your thighs with your thumbs pointed upward. Use a 5-, 10-, or 20lb weight in a hammer position and lift it back and forth slowly for 3 sets of 20 repetitions. This will develop your brachioradialis muscle, which inserts at the distal aspect of the forearm at the wrist. Greater hypertrophy of this muscle will give more definition and balance of the forearm.
  5. Seated Wrist Straight Curls – This is to develop your flexor muscles. In a seated position, with your forearms on your thighs and palms facing upward, with a 5-, 10-, or even 20lb weight in hand, flex your wrist upward. Keep the forearms well placed against your thighs for greater stability and isolation of the wrist and forearm musculature. Be careful to place the wrist three to four inches away from the knee to allow the full range of motion. Take caution not to overextend.  Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
  6. Seated Reverse Wrist Curls – This is to develop your extensor muscles and is also done in a seated position with your forearms on your thigh, palms facing downward, with the wrist three to four inches away from the knees. Grasp the weight and extend the wrist fully. Do this for 3 sets of 20 and be sure to not lift the elbows from the thighs when extending the wrists. Keep the palms down.
  7. Finger Curls – This is an easy exercise to perform and will develop finger and hand strength. Simply sit and hold a 5-, 10-, or 15lb in weight your hand. Turn your hand with the palm upward with the back of your wrist on your thigh. Allow the weight to roll down your fingers, and now curl your fingers back holding the weight securely. Remember to keep the back of your wrist against your thigh throughout the execution of the exercise. Use weight which you can effectively control and execute the exercises properly.

Another web page provided exercises and an explanation of e I found: 3 Wrist Strengthening Exercises To Prevent Yoga Injuries

In order to protect the wrist, it is essential that we place more weight on the mounds of our thumb, index, and middle finger and less so on the ring and pinky side.

Most often, due to weak upper arm and shoulder strength, our weight automatically falls on the outside of our hands. This weight on the heel of the palm will lift the index finger off the floor placing a great degree of tension on the ulna, which isn’t designed to bear as much of a load. To protect this sensitive joint, more weight should be placed on the heel of the hand while at the same time, using the fingers pads to distribute the weight evenly.

Other exercises suggested were:

Ball Squeeze

Take a stress ball or tennis ball and grip it in your palm as firmly as possible with your fingers. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat about 10 times. Switch hands. There are a few variations you could do with a ball squeeze.

Towel Wring

Take a dry towel and twist the towel in opposite direction, as if to squeeze the water out of it. Hold the contraction at the end for a few seconds. Be mindful of overstretching as this can aggravate your already injured wrists. Switch sides and repeat 8-10 times.

Recovering From Hand Surgery

The stitches are out from my finder after hand surgery.  The surgeon had to remove scar tissue and repair the tendon.  So far, my hand looks pretty good.  Oddly, i have two fingers that are swollen and cannot bend instead of just the one.  I will be trying to stretch them out and exercise them while traveling through Ireland over the next couple of weeks.

Until I return to the surgeon for evaluation, I thought I’d look online for some ideas:

Make a Fistwebmd_rf_photo_of_fist_stretch

Make a gentle fist, wrapping your thumb across your fingers.   Stretch only until you feel tightness. You shouldn’t feel pain.Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Release and spread your fingers wide. Repeat with both hands at least four times.

 

Claw Stretch

webmd_rf_photo_of_claw_stretchThis stretch helps improve the range of motion in your fingers.

Hold your hand out in front of you, palm facing you.
Bend your fingertips down to touch the base of each finger joint. Your hand should look a little like a claw.
Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and release. Repeat at least four times on each hand.

Finger Bends
Finger bends strengthen your flexor tendons and increase the mobility of tendons across your fingers. To perform this exercise, place your hands palm side up on a bench. Keeping your fingers straight, gently bend your fingers at the knuckles as far as possible.  Hold this position for a few seconds. Bend your wrist and fingers backwards as far as you can. Hold this position for a few seconds and return your hands to the starting position. . Perform 50 repetitions of the exercise each hour you are awake,  Perform this exercise on both hands.

Rubber Band Strengthening
Using a rubber band can strengthen the tendons in the hands post surgery. To perform this exercise, place an elastic band around your thumb and fingers. Keeping your elbow straight, Stretch the elastic band by opening your fingers and thumbs. Hold this position for three seconds. Slowly return your fingers and thumb to the starting position. Perform this exercise until fatigued.

Hand Open and Close
Curl your fihand openngers and thumb making a tight fist then straighten your fingers as far as you can go without pain and provided you feel no more than a mild to moderate stretch

 

Repeat 10 – 20 times provided the exercise is pain free.

Finger Adduction to Abduction
Begin with your fingers together aFinger Adduction to Abductions demonstrated. Spread your fingers apart as far as you can go without pain and provided you feel no more than a mild to moderate stretch, then return to the starting position.

Repeat 10 – 20 times provided the exercise is pain free.

Walking in the park before voting

Primary Election Day in New York!  We went for a short walk today on a really lovely spring morning before heading off to the polls.  With the Fitbit app tracking our siblings’ activities, there is an incentive to sneak in a few active minutes where ever we can.

I thought some simple advice about taking care of our knees would be nice.  Here is an article I found by Paul R. on the Healthversations site.

4 Incredibly Important Things You Need to Be Doing for Better Knees

Scientists and doctors agree that there are several key areas to focus on for better joints no matter what your age, and these four can be done all by yourself from the comforts of home.

  • Take a load off. What you may not know and will be shocked to find out is that every extra pound of body weight you carry is equivalent to around 4 pounds of excess pressure on your knees and other joints. That means if you’re just 10 pounds overweight, that’s an extra 40 pounds of unnecessary pressure placed on your joints. Take a load off with regular diet and exercise.
  • Use it or lose it. Although you may limit movement to keep your stiffness and discomfort from flaring up, long periods of inactivity can weaken muscles, which means your joints are doing all the work when you do move. Research suggests that low-impact aerobic exercise can actually help reduce joint tenderness.
  • Don’t forget to stretch! AFTA Certified Personal Trainer, Lisa Amburgey, believes a few minutes of stretching every day will help prevent stiffness or injuries. She recommends the knee extension, performed while sitting on a chair with your back supported and the balls of your feet and toes touching the ground. Slowly extend your right leg in front of you until it is parallel to the floor and your leg is straight out. Flex your foot, hold about 3 seconds, and then slowly return it to the floor. Repeat on your left leg, then alternate legs for 8-12 sets.
  • Supplement for success. What about that sore, aching feeling in your knees and other hot spots that you can’t seem to extinguish no matter what you try? A high-quality joint formula like Instaflex can deliver powerful ingredients and benefits you won’t get elsewhere.

 

Physical therapy for my torn meniscus

I’m back to physical therapy for my knee.  There’s been a lot of progress.  Today’s routine was very similar to what i had to do when dealing with my other knee’s Patella Femoral Syndrome and included:

  • On the Pilates Reformer machine:
    • basic one leg pushing exercises
    • bridges
    • leg extensions
  • Using the resistance band:
    • walking side squats
      • How to Do It:Squat-Walk
        Step 1: Attach a resistance band to each ankle.

        Step 2: Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. You may need to shorten the band in order to get the right resistance.

        Step 3: Get into a squat position, knees at roughly a 45-degree angle, and walk sideways. Take 5 to 10 steps to the left, then right, keeping your knees bent and maintaining resistance on the band throughout. Repeat. Try keeping your arms outstretched in front of you, which will provide balance as you do the exercise. “Slower and better quality is more important than attempting to do this fast with poor quality,”

    • clam shell exercises
    • side leg raise
      • How to Do It:side legLie on your right side and lift your left leg to 45 degrees in a controlled manner, then lower it back down to the starting position. Make sure your pelvis remains in a neutral position. A more advanced version includes a loop of rubber tubing around your ankles for added resistance. Perform 20-30 reps.
  • back leg lifts, lying down
    • How to Do It:back leg lift
    • Lie face down, head rest­ing on the backs of your hands, elbows out at your sides
    • Gently pull in your lower abs, then squeeze your but­tock muscle tightly on one leg and lift that leg off the ground
    • As you lift, take care not to tip your body over to the other side, as that’s cheat­ing
      Hold your leg briefly in the air, then lower.
    • Now do the same with the other leg.

The knee is getting stronger and the only sharp pains occurred during the walking side squats.  I think it was because my feet were not always in the correct position.

The therapist said the mild burning discomfort in my knee while walking on the beach was normal and caused by the uneven surface.  As long as I don’t overdo it, the knee should improve fairly quickly.  Yes!  Hopefully, I can get to a point where I can do some of the resistance band exercises I had previously tried.

Fitbit Blaze

I just received a Fitbit Blaze as a present from my husband!  It’s great fun so far although I don’t rack up nearly as many steps as he does.

Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, Black, Silver, Large

I decided that i didn’t need the GPS capability built into the watch.  Someday, I will read through the instructions and figure out how to pair it to the GPS in my phone.  There are only rare occasions when I venture out without the phone anyway.

What I needed was:

  • a large screen that was easy to read
  • an accurate heart rate monitor without the need for chest strap, and,
  • something that automatically tracks steps and sleep,

It’s nice that the Fitbit Blaze does all of that without having to remember to manually set something up or change watches or put on a chest strap.

Also nice is the ability to link the calorie and activity tracking from the SparkPeople Mobile App to the Fitbit App.   So I have a constant and visual reminder of how many calories I’ve used and how many I have taken in.  Cool right?  Also having the connection with the Sparkpeople site means that I don’t have to re-enter any of the activity information I’ve been tracking all along.

I think the little badges that you earn for walking are cheesy but cute.  It’s fun to add friends to the Fitbit app so that you have a little community of Type A personalities cheering each other on. 🙂  It’s a terrific incentive.

Anyway, this is my first day and the shiny newness is still with me.

Torn Meniscus

I’ve been dealing with a torn meniscus since late November.  My poor knee got a tad banged up: I overextended it when my side kick missed the Century B.O.B. (body opponent bag) ; continued to play tennis; and, finally, twisted it on a Christmas hike.  My MRI showed it was a clean break with a Bakers cyst; some arthritis and a sprain.

I basically didn’t do any exercise for a couple of months and babied myself.  We went on a cruise to the Western Caribbean and visited Mexico, Honduras and Belize – very nice.  After returning, I decided against any immediate surgery and opted for physical therapy and a knee brace with struts.  The brace is only necessary when playing tennis or practicing on B.O.B.  I am only punching at this point as kicking seems to just make my knee burn, brace or not.

I’ve been using an iPhone app called Fight Trainer.  It costs $4.99 and it is not perfect but it seems better than some of the others.  I can use it with my wireless headphones and listen to my music.  You can also speed up or slow down the time between instructions.  It keeps you honest when the sun is beating down on you and it seems like you’ve been working out forever.

Sadly, I have some minor surgery coming up to repair a tendon on my right hand so I doubt I will be punching for a while.  On the up side, we will be visiting Ireland in May so i can keep my mind off my troubles.

Fourth Quarter 2015

Link

What an amazing time we’ve had these past few months!  We traveled to London, UK to visit with best friends and family and then headed out on a cruise through the Baltic. After that, we traveled to Jamaica to attend a friend’s wedding.  Finally, we returned to New York!

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, netherlands

Van Gogh

When we began the cruise, we stopped off in Amsterdam, Netherlands and visited the Van Gogh Museum. Just a hint: be sure to order tickets online or be prepared to wait a long time to get into the very small museum.Ocean Princess Balcony and the Kiel Canal

Our next day was spent traveling from the North Sea to the Baltic via the Kiel Canal, Germany.  We had an amazing suite overlooking the ship’s prow.

Once we arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, we took a tour of the waterways [boring] then walked through the Gamla stan (The Old Town).  The streets were closed down for the 15th Stockholm Half Marathon. It was fun to see all the runners and the celebrations.

In Tallinn, Estonia, we walked on our own into the quaint old city and went shopping. The woolen goods are gorgeous, well made and reasonably priced.  Woo hoo!

Peterhof Palace, St PetersburgTwo days in St. Petersburg, Russia meant we visited the Hermitage, Peterhof Palace, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and cruised down the River Neva.
The Old Town of Riga, Latvia had lots of medieval culture and Art Noveau architecture to explore.

Despite mockery by our friend, Eric, our excursion to the former missile silo in the Zemaitija National Park in Klaipeda, Lithuania was terrific. The best par Outside the missile silo, Klaipeda, Lithuania 2015t of it was listeninOutside the missile silo, Klaipeda, Lithuania 2015g to the guide’s childhood stories and the gradual growth of his sense of Latvian pride and nationalism.

We had the opportunity to visit the Louisiana Museum outside of Copenhagen, Denmark and saw the Yayoi Kusama: In Infinity exhibit.  It was terrific fun.

YAYOI KUSAMA IN INFINITYIMG_0539The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

Lazy Exercises on the Beach

Thought I would try to do some easy exercises while I lay on the beach (while not attracting lots of attention):

  • Hand Finger Forearm Strength TrainerHand Exercises: Using a Hand/Finger/Forearm Strength Trainer, I did a hundred repetitions while suntanning on the beach.
  • side-lying-leg-liftsSide Leg LiftsSide leg lifts work the abs, especially the hard to get at obliques, as well as the inner thigh.  Lie on your side with your legs stacked and your head resting on your arm. Tighten the muscle in the front of the top thigh and lift that leg into the air. Hold for one count, lower to touch the bottom leg and then lift again.
  • Two-Knee Twistback pain, low back pain, yoga for back pain, back pain relief, yoga for back Lying on your back, bend your knees into your chest and bring your arms out at a T. As you exhale lower your knees to ground on the right. Keep both shoulders pressing down firmly. If the left shoulder lifts, lower your knees further away from the right arm. Hold for 1-2 minutes each side
  • Forward Seated Bend:  There are many benefits of this posture, the main and most obvious one is to provide a complete stretch of the entire backside of the body from the back of the head through the heels.  seated-forward-bend
    • Sit up straight with your legs together, stretched out in front of you. Point both feet straight up towards the ceiling.  Be sure you are sitting straight up on the sitbones with your spine straight.
    • Inhale, and stretch your arms up over your head. Following the direction of your hands, at the same time lengthen the entire spine upwards
  • Sphinx:  back pain, low back pain, yoga for back pain, back pain relief, yoga for backLying on your stomach, prop yourself up on your forearms. Align your elbows directly under your shoulders. Press firmly through your palms and the tops of your feet. Press your pubic bone forward. You will feel sensations in your lower back, but breathe through it. You are allowing blood flow into the lower back for healing. Hold for 1-3 minutes.