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The Myth of the Bum Knee


Other than the ubiquitous quest for more time, the number one reason I hear for not participating in exercise is “I have a bum knee.”

I also hear bad back, frozen shoulder, and painful hip.

Occasionally there’s tennis elbow, bunions, and ingrown toenails.

The point is, everybody has something, and that something doesn’t diminish the fact that exercise and movement is one of the MOST important things you can do to stay healthy.

Think you have issues now?  Wait until you have multiple joint failure and diabetes because you can’t keep the weight off.  And you can no longer walk the aisles in the grocery store without hanging onto the cart because you get winded so easily. And you can’t get up from the floor, regardless of whether you got there on purpose or by accident.

I’m sorry to be so snarky.  But the thing is, if you have a bad knee, you still have 3 other good limbs and a core that needs your attention.  And a heart that needs to be challenged in order to stay strong.  And blood vessels that need to stay open.  And a brain that needs to be awash in rich, oxygenated blood to clear out all the gunk. If you let the bum knee be the reason you opt out of exercise, you’re making a big, big mistake.

And it’s not just your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems that need exercise.  You have a significantly lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia if you exercise! 

Many fitness trainers are becoming more versed on “corrective exercise”- they have work-arounds for your specific issue that still makes exercising the rest of the body possible.  Most hospital systems offer “medical fitness” to folks who need medical advice and support with exercise.  You can even check AARP and Silver Sneakers websites and get some really good online guidance and videos.

I always go back to the essence of being human, and what we were designed to do, when thinking through best practices for fitness and wellbeing.  We were designed to move- on two legs, and occasionally on all fours- in diagonal patterns using large muscle groups.  We were designed to be able to outrun our prey when we hunt (yes we can go farther than many animals without fatiguing).  We were designed to have elevated stress levels for brief periods of time, and this stress is actually good for us.  We were designed for competition, and the socialization that comes from being members of large tribes. We were designed to be outside.  If one of our ancestors had a bum knee and was being chased by a tiger, he would have no choice but to keep moving.

Your enemy is not the tiger.  Your enemy is a lifestyle that allows you to exist without movement, stress, competition, or socialization.  It’s making you a subpar version of who you can be.

So is the knee really the problem?  Or is it access to resources, places, and people?

Let’s discuss it so we can improve it.  It’s so doable, people!

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