Monday, July 6, 2009

Takin' the Knee to Rehab

"They try to make me to go to rehab, and I say uh, no, no, no!"
- From "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse -

Knee joints are a bitch.

It's easily the most complex, most misunderstood joint in the body. I had my right knee kicked in during a sparring practice in 1984. It was a pretty typical accident, especially in Korean martial arts. My partner and I tried to kick each other at the same time, our legs collided and I happened to take it on the inside of the knee.

Three years later, my left knee gave out. I'd just been favoring that leg so much that the wear- and-tear just got to it.

In 1992, my then-sifu, Lucjan Shila, and my kung fu brother, Andy Macaluso, taught me some new ways of stretching. Combined with some other changes in my workout, I've been able to manage my knee pain pretty well. Thanks to their advice and training, I often go for months, or even years, without any problems whatsoever.

But once in a while, I'll do something that sets it off again. I'll be limping around or even resorting to my cane while trying to rehabilitate my knee through the use of stretching and strengthening exercises, various medicines, both modern pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies, along with some common sense and rest.

I've hit one of those times again. My right knee has been giving me some pain since I twisted my foot getting out of my car. It wasn't a bad twist and that's how it usually happens. Just some moment of not paying attention causes a little twist or some impact that causes the old pain to act up. Of course, I don't think the wet weather we've had lately has helped matters, either.

So my summertime efforts at returning to some strong basics are taking on a whole new meaning. I've found that when dealing with injuries, very often, the best thing to do is the most basic exercises and techniques.

Today, I started with a short but good 15-minute standing stake exercise, aka "Embrace the World" posture. There is nothing like that exercise to gently get your joints back into shape and to force you to pay attention to your alignment and body structure. It's an incredibly basic exercise with benefits that carry over to the rest of your practice.

I followed that with a full-body stretch while I plan out my workouts for the next couple of weeks. I think I'll be focusing mostly on various qigong and stretching exercises in the morning, followed by the usual strongman stuff in the afternoon.

We'll see how it goes.

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