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Mindful Walking – to rehabilitate cranky knees

Back in the day we immobilized an injury.  But these days, physicians are recommending that we keep moving!  A friend of mine was up and walking the same day as her heart surgery, knee and hip replacement recipients are encouraged to get up and get walking as soon as possible, in order to keep the joint mobile and keep muscles active in the recovery process.

With any injury or recovery after surgery the body compensates.  So if we are recovering, or we hurt ourselves, we shift our weight to the other leg, and our gait changes.  When we change our gait, all of our muscles begin working differently.  When we ambulate in a new way, the head moves to re-position itself, as a counter balance to our new range of motion.  This happens obviously if you’ve got a limp, or find yourself suddenly on crutches.  It also happens with postural habits that shift  over time.

I recently tweaked my knee paddle boarding–trying to carve into repeated oncoming waves. It seems that the ocean is harder than snow… I inevitably  yielded under the barking of my now injured knee.   In response, I cut back on my daily walks, and shortened my now weekly outing, taking care to stay away from hills for a few weeks.  I also stopped my 30 min daily yoga routine, and shifted that to a couple times a week, trading the flow style Yoga Burn workouts for the lower impact sessions.  BUT several weeks into my injury, I’m yearning to be rehabilitated already, and get back to my exercise routine!

SO, I am walking mindfully.  I am using good shoes with insoles, and I am conscious of the way my feet strike the ground with every step.  I keep sending loving messages to my knee, that I am rehabilitating it with care.  I try to maintain ankle stability, even as I traverse the uneven terrain of a gravel road, or the lumpy field of tall grasses.  I also like to walk mindfully with the lines in the sidewalk.  I try and keep my feet an even distance from the line on both sides, and watch to keep either foot from rotating.

To rehabilitate any injury, remain mindful, and listen to the rest of your body as well.  Notice what feels stiff and tight. Stretch. Breathe.  Drink water to support muscle hydration.  Of course, always listen to your physician, especially after a medical procedure or if you have a health condition.  If it hurts, ease up.  I bolted out of my house bent for a good walk, but when I went about a block, my knee was really barking, so I told the dog we’d have to go back.  I apologized to my knee and slowly and deliberately ambulated home, and sat with an ice pack for 20 minutes.

Some days you win some, some days you go home and rest.  And, I remain mindful, and grateful for the ability to ambulate!

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