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Thread: knee surgery and squats page

  1. #1
    primalrob's Avatar
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    knee surgery and squats

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    so, i'm recovering from a partial meniscectomy (partial removal of the meniscus cartilage in my knee) ten days ago. i'm feeling great, walking a good amount, and about to start going lightly on the exercise bike. i had a follow-up with my ortho surgeon today, and he gave me the ok to keep doing what i'm doing and--when i'm comfortable or ready--i can return to running, hiking, sports, sprinting, jumping, etc.

    however...he advised me to stay away from squats. squats, deadlifts, lunges...anything with a decent knee bend basically...i'm supposed to do sparingly. squats are my best exercise; i don't want to stop. i can certainly do them if i want, but due to wear and tear (increased because of an odd bone fragment thingy in my patella) i might end up back in surgery down the line.

    i'm looking for some advice here. in a couple of months, will it be okay for me to handle bodyweight squats, bulgarian squats, and eventually pistols (i'm fine giving up barbel squats), or should i find other leg exercises to do? and what should those exercises be?

    i don't think my surgeon would steer me wrong, and i'm sure he knows what he's talking about (sports medicine specialty), but i sort of wanted to put some feelers out there from anyone who may have had similar experiences.

    to recap:
    1. should i do bodyweight squats after a meniscectomy or not?
    2. what are some alternative lower body strength exercises to replace the squat?

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    workinhard's Avatar
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    I don't know about that particular injury. But I've had three knee surgeries... one on the right, two on the left (one to repair a shattered patella... worst pain ever btw).

    All I can say, is AFTER I fully rehabed... my joints get very sore if I DONT barbell squat. Again, not sure about your injury, but I have some of the worst knees most doctors have seen... and when done with proper form... squats help me.

    Good luck.

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    nax
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    I had the same procedure done 10yrs or so ago and seriously lacked in rehab/PT. You will definitely be able to do the squats later but from my experience, you most likely need a bit of a work up to that to get your joint tightened up after the surgery. The decrease in inflammation by starting PB is has helped my knee feel the closest to 100% since before injury. I'd say if you don't squat and keep that range of motion, you'll lose it from scar tissue, and I've had a hell of a time breaking that down.
    "You can demonstrate the purpose and limits of human digestion with a simple experiment: eat a steak with some whole corn kernels, and see what comes out the other end. It won’t be the steak."
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    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Take some wobenzym

    http://www.wobenzym-usa.com/
    Brad

    late onset type1 diabetic 4-27-10 @ age 30

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    Different knee injury for me (torn MCL) but the way my physical therapists and trainers worked me back up to squats after the injury was starting with assisted squats. That helps keep the range of motion up, but doesn't put as much strain on the knee to start. Variations included holding onto a TRX band at about eye level and supporting my body partially with my arms while squatting, or putting a big exercise ball at the bottom of my back/on my butt and leaning back against a wall while squatting (this one allows you to play around with placement of the ball and placement of your feet away from the wall to increase/decrease pressure depending on the pain).

    Might work for you. If you can get physical therapy, I'd highly recommend it. In my case, surgery was not indicated, and the physical therapy is what has enabled me to get back to full functionality after the injury.

    More generally, I've found that the more I am able to do squats and lunges the fewer problems I have with my knees. I have nasty arthritis in both knees from 10+ years of carrying around over 300 lbs. That's not going to get any better but if I keep the supporting muscles strong through squats/lunges/etc., the pain in my knees goes away.
    Last edited by ennasirk; 02-24-2011 at 12:07 PM.
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    Coach Palfrey's Avatar
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    No reason for you to avoid squatting at all - just take your time working back to depth and keep a close eye on the workload.

    Avoiding squatting and lunging is standard advice from surgeons (sports med or otherwise) who have little experience in the rehab process. Most of them have been told for years that deep squats are bad for the knees and he's no doubt just repeating this advice.

    The bottom line is...if you don't/can't squat, things will continually decline for you physically. Just take things slowly. I have a client who has had both knees completely replaced and she squats fine. And she is 82.

  7. #7
    primalrob's Avatar
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    thanks for the advice everyone. obviously i won't be doing any squats for a while, and i'll keep my legs strong with plenty of hiking in the warmer weather, but it's good to know that i will likely be able to handle at least some squatting down the road.

    @coach: i thought the same thing about most doctors and their understanding of squats, but it's good to hear it from someone else.

  8. #8
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    Primalrob,

    How are your knees a year after this post. I recently started doing some of the primal exercises (I like the workouts in Sarah Fragoso's Everyday Paleo but my left knee hurts. I went to the doctor today and he told me that I am no spring chick (I'm 41), and that I should not do squats. I have had no surgeries and none are indicated but I worry about 10 years down the road. Do you, or anyone know how to get this joint back in shape?

    Thanks,
    Kathryn

  9. #9
    primalrob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wypaleo View Post
    Primalrob,

    How are your knees a year after this post. I recently started doing some of the primal exercises (I like the workouts in Sarah Fragoso's Everyday Paleo but my left knee hurts. I went to the doctor today and he told me that I am no spring chick (I'm 41), and that I should not do squats. I have had no surgeries and none are indicated but I worry about 10 years down the road. Do you, or anyone know how to get this joint back in shape?

    Thanks,
    Kathryn
    hi kathryn,
    it's been one year since my surgery, and i've never felt as physically able to do anything as i do right now. in the past year i have thrown on heavy packs and climbed some of the steepest and most difficult mountains in the northeast, participated in the warrior dash and spartan race, run more than i ever have before, biked more than i ever have before, transitioned from regular squats to bulgarians and then to assisted pistols, improved my sprinting, improved my jumping, and climbed more trees. that all happened because i ignored my doctor and went with advice i got right here. the only thing i have sort of stopped doing is burpees...because that's what caused my original injury and i'm afraid i'll stop paying attention to form when i get too tired.
    the squats took some time to get comfortable with, but i have bagging 10 mile hikes exactly two months after my surgery. i skipped my surgeon's recommendations and hit the internet, met people who had the same questions as me, and solicited some free advice from a few physical therapists. i still get some pain here and there (apparently, arthritis is a common side effect of my surgery), but it hasn't stopped me from pushing my limits. the key is form. sloppy exercise is going to lead to injury. bulgarian squats were great for this...they let you focus on strengthening the muscles around the knee in a safe range of motion. and, no matter what i do, my knee never hurts as much as it did when i was carrying over 300 lbs.
    i'm 33, but at 41 i expect i'll be doing a lot of the same stuff i'm doing now...probably even harder and crazier stuff. if your knee is bothering you, i suggest skipping your doctor and checking in with a physical therapist. recovery is what they do, so they would be more likely to suggest ways to get your knee feeling good without any drugs or too conservative a treatment.

  10. #10
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    I appreciate the follow-up. I have had 2 surgeries with odd pains over the past two years. I was procrastinating my start with the essential primal movements out of fear. My ortho did say to go ahead, yet no one has been able to figure out why I still get some shooting pain. I can walk and bike, but without the squats I do not think the leg/knee is as strong as it could be. I haven't backpacked much because of it too. So I will start with the progression of exercises today. Thanks again.

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