Health: Relief for Painful Knees

Photo copyright by Lorna Tedder, self-portrait with mirrors.

It’s been 15 years since I’ve worn heels.  In 2004, upon ordering me to physical therapy just to be able to walk without tears, my physician declared that I’d be a “flats girl” for the rest of my life.  My dates have seen me wear high heels only when I’m sitting and swinging legs and trying to look sexy–and NOT walking across a restaurant or standing around cocktail parties.

In the last 18 months, I’ve regained the strength and flexibility in my knees that I had 15 years ago.  Okay, they’re not as good as they were at, say 21 (when I didn’t appreciate my knees!), but I’m happy to say that I’m wearing heels again…comfortably.

The first change was 18 months ago when I was doing P90X.  My knees strengthened to the point where they didn’t hurt ALL the time or make me totter like an old woman.

The next change was last summer when I cut out all gluten.  I found that adding back one slice of white bread would make my joints aaaaaaaaache.  Okay, easy answer for that–just don’t eat bread.

But I still couldn’t wear heels.  No pain with walking or bending or even sprinting on the treadmill, but still no high heels.

Then my friend Heather introduced me to APY60, which is American Power Yoga, as an alternative to my yoga day on P90X.  I noticed the biggest changes from it in my core, but I also found that I could comfortably wear heels again.  Of course, I’d just thrown out all the heels I’d kept for years, even after my doctor’s prognosis, because I didn’t think I could ever wear them again.

About six weeks into adding APY60 yoga to my regimen, I was wearing heels, heels, heels!  Then I got caught up in lots of overtime work and too tired to do yoga before falling into bed when I got home.  I stopped my yoga for about six weeks and suddenly, I was having trouble with wearing heels again.  The pain was back in my knees when I wore heels, though I was still fine in flats.

I’m back to yoga at least twice a week and back to heels.  So…why?  Heather had the answer for me.  She noted that in APY60 yoga, we are frequently flexing our toes and as we do, there’s a connection to the knee muscles.   Focusing on flexing your toes while you work out–regardless of the workout–strengthens the knees in a different but very effective way.

Here are the  best things I do for knee health–and this is from someone who had knee pain so bad in 2004 that I could not walk down steps (Read my 2006 novel, DARK REVELATIONS, for how I…I mean my kick-ass heroine…felt about my knee injury being my kryptonite) and could not walk on a treadmill at half a mile per hour:

1.  walking leisurely,

2. omitting wheat from my diet because it causes inflammation in my body, and

3. flexing my toes during workouts, especially yoga or any type of legwork.