Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Fight Against Degenerative Knee Pain

Over the years I have enjoyed many outdoor pursuits from running to rock climbing. I have had some minor knee issues since the mid nineties but always overcame them. The knee pain started getting the better of me in the mid noughties accompanied by shoulder and thumb pains.
Several visits to the physio later we realized the knee problems were of a degenerative nature, basically arthritis.

Here's a look at how my cycling was affected after managing to get back on the bike and put in some mileage in 2008 then suffering constant pain and swelling over the next few years.
All this time ( since 2008 ) I had been using a piece of software called Sport Tracks to record my rides, this is done by taking a GPS device and in my case a heart rate monitor on all the rides.


I hate to be a plot spoiler but you may have noticed that something happened in 2013 ! Well lets just see how bad it got by looking at the record I kept that year. The daftest thing like bending the knee too much whilst crouching down would results in a wee of limping and my knee swelling up up like a football !


I tried to cycle more in 2013 and it did seem to help a little, sometimes my knee was so swollen that I cimply couldn't turn the cranks. Running had been completely abandoned after even the shortest run left me crippled.

I slowly increased my cycling mileage but I was still in a lot of pain and could not stand on the pedals, I needed a wee boost to help me out so arranged for a cortisone injection in September 2013.

Eureka. Cue the mileage increase, the fitness increase and the muscle increase !

I re-discovered Strava. The first time I tried it I wasn't sure that racing on certain segments every time I went out was going to be enjoyable, but now it was the perfect training motivation for me. I uploaded GPX files that I had from 2008 and tried to beat my times. I would just take it easy on the non segmented parts and go all out on a segment. My mileage (Km) increased.



I knew the cycling was working and helping to keep the pain and swelling away even though the effectiveness of the injection must have been slowly wearing off. I needed something else to make sure I could cycle with the winter weather approaching.

I needed a Turbo Trainer. I had one years before and sold it as it was so boring cycling in the house. I then discovered Trainer Road. This is an excellent online tool with workouts and full programs.

All this time ( since 2008 ) I had been using a piece of software called Sport Tracks to record my rides, this is done by taking a GPS device and in my case a heart rate monitor on all the rides.

All of the above, Sport Tracks, Strava and Trainer Road have helped me in my battle, there's also the work on the road and trail but that's the fun part.

Its now January. I have minor niggles and can still feel pain whilst cycling or even walking down the stairs, but its nowhere near as bad as it was and I don't have the frequent swelling to deal with anymore.

I'm still beating my times on Strava segments from 2008.

I'll do a separate, more in depth blog on the above tools and how they can be used together to keep you cycling.
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