Knee Pain: How to Stay Sane When You Can’t Do What You Love

I’d been lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling, for hours.

The knee pain wasn’t even that bad, but this one thought had kept me awake past 2 AM.

How would my life change, if I could never again run or jump as I used to?

In retrospect, it’s a stupid question to ask. Here’s why.

The mind will give you answers to every question you ask, so if you try to picture a bad future, your brain will come up with tons of depressing imagery within seconds.

Brain: “So you want to feel bad? Okay, here goes…”

Before you know it, you’ll be sucked into a negative spiral of self-pity and apathy. I’ve been there.

Today I want to talk about how to stay sane when you can’t do the sport you love.

The Biochemically Most Important Step

If you’re used to doing sports several times a week, your body biochemically depends on your activity to maintain a positive mood.

Without sports, you’ll start to feel bad. The longer you stay inactive, the shittier you’ll feel, but there’s an easy solution…

Keep active in any way you can!

Your body relies on muscular activity to feel good and any type of training will work. Here’s what worked best for me.

Two effective exercises you can do almost anywhere are chin-ups and push-ups. They’re super-safe for your knees and a great way to use a big part of your upper body musculature.

Rubber boot chin-ups are the best chin-ups.

Even if you don’t like these drills, you’ll find that you’ll feel great after doing 30 to 50 total repetitions spread out over as few sets as necessary. Three sessions per week will suffice. That’s less than 30 minutes of training to feel good for a whole week!

I dare you to do the push-ups right now. Safe the chin-ups for when you have access to a bar.

These two drills kept me sane and gave my training purpose when I couldn’t do anything else.

If they’re too tough for you, you can also do dumbbell presses and rows or push-ups with your hands on a table. JUST STAY ACTIVE (I can’t emphasize this enough).

Step 2: Distract Yourself

I used to play basketball in the afternoon on the weekends and Tuesday evening. When I couldn’t play, I filled those time-slots with other activities to keep my mind distracted from what I was missing.

My go-to activities to distract myself were photography, reading books, and watching TV shows. Check out this page to find great TV shows (my favorite: The Wire).

bird_big

Of course, you can also use this time to catch up on other hobbies that you wanted to spend more time on.

Maybe you have guitar that’s collecting dust in the corner or maybe you’re into painting or poetry. Whatever it is now is the time to get better at it.

We begin to love a sport because being good at it gives us satisfaction.

I sucked when I started playing basketball, but after 5 years, I wasn’t the worst guy on the court anymore and being good obviously made playing the game a lot more fun.

So the mood uplift from sports is not just because of the biochemical effects, but it’s also psychological. The better you are at something, the more you enjoy it. This happens to be why push-ups and chin-ups will suck when you first do them.

You need to keep this in mind when devising a strategy to feel better.

Step 3: Reframe the Sport You Love

Okay so here’s the thing.

For recreational athletes, sports are about having fun, as we just spoke about.

You will spend a lot of time enjoying the activity, the fun part, while only spending little time on prep-work such as warming up, stretching, mobility training, maintaining muscular balance, and so on.

Once you push past a certain level of competency and performance in your sport, just showing up at the court in your sneakers is no longer enough to keep you healthy.

The more serious you become about your performance, the more time you have to invest into preparing your body for your sport.

For every hour a professional athlete spends enjoying their sport, they spend several hours getting ready. That’s easy to forget when watching sports on TV or highlight reels on YouTube.

The best thing you can do now is to reframe rehab as an actual part of your sport. In your mind, doing gluteal exercises, stretching, and foam rolling will go from being something you “have to” do to something you actually want to do.

This shift in mindset has a huge effect on how quickly you recover from injuries and how happy you are with yourself.

Subtle, but Brutal

The changes we talked about in this email are very subtle at first, but combined they have a brutal effect on how you will feel during your rehab period. The better you feel, the less likely you are to do something stupid that causes a setback.

You will recover FASTER and feel BETTER during the process.

Eight months of feeling bad and being depressed could turn into five months you’ll later look back on with a smile.

Start today with 30 to 50 push-ups and see where it takes you. Take as many breaks as you need to finish, but start now.

From Crippling Tendonitis to MVP Award: How Pro Athlete Boki Nachbar Beat His Tendonitis to Feel “95% Better”

bokiImagine you had the opportunity to spend every day doing what you love and earning several Million Dollars per year doing it.

Would you take that job?

There’s just one problem.

If you can’t get your knee pain under control, the fun is over.

That was Boki Nachbar’s situation. Among other teams, Boki played professional basketball for the Houston Rockets alongside Yao Ming and for the New Jersey Nets, with Vince Carter and Jason Kidd.

Boki reached out to me for help with his tendonitis last year in August, because the knee pain was ruining his love for basketball. He wanted to keep playing without using painkillers.

Here are his results after Boki and I worked together on a detailed plan for him to follow during his off-season.

  • Won league MVP award in March after a season with horrible tendonitis
  • Feels “95% better” compared to last season
  • Most importantly: Basketball is FUN again

How to Beat Your Tendonitis Using Boki’s Approach

Boki invited me for an interview on his podcast and we talked about a number of topics you’ll find interesting such as:

  • Preventing and rehabbing knee injuries in sports, particularly tendonitis
  • Why my approach helped him get better while the advice his physical therapists gave him didn’t
  • What happens if you play through patellar tendonitis

 

Click here to listen to the interview.
(Use the link at the bottom of the page to download it to your device)

 

If you found the conversation useful, please leave a short review on iTunes.

 

Picture by Boštjan Nachbar

The Best Knee Pain Articles of 2015

It’s crazy how fast the last year went by. Today, the first month of 2016 is almost over as well. I can’t believe it.

One thing hasn’t changed though: I still want to help you get back to enjoying your life by beating knee pain. I’m dedicating this week to help you make it happen in 2016 and we’ll start with the two best knee pain articles I published last year.

Combined, these articles took me almost 5 months to research, write, and film. Here they are.

1: The Minimalist Method for Beating Knee Pain

I’ve always been a no-fluff guy, but with the infographic “5 Steps to Make Leg Injuries History” I took it to the extreme. This minimalist method for beating knee pain is the foundation for every successfully treatment program.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The 15 Most Effective Knee Strengthening Exercises
  • How to calculate your individual risk of knee pain
  • 7 Leg Alignment Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Knees

This is the very best way to start healing your knees. Years of research boiled down into one article.

Read the article here.

2: My Ultimate Guide on Curing Patellar Tendonitis

The exercises you learn in the “minimalist method” above work for patellar tendonitis as well, but they won’t be enough to heal completely, because getting rid of patellar tendonitis is like trying to get out of a maze. Just when you think you’re making progress, you’ll find yourself in a dead end. This guide is your way out.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Popular treatment options that are secretly weakening your tendon
  • Why patellar tendonitis keeps coming back
  • How to make your patellar tendon strong enough for your sport

Read the guide here.

– Martin

3 Shocking Truths I Learned From a Torn Meniscus

Knee injuries are commonplace these days it seems. People go off to enjoy a winter vacation and come back with an injured knee. I’ve heard many stories like these, especially after I started fix-knee-pain.com two years ago. Thanks to modern medicine, these knee injuries will be dealt with professionally, right? Wrong!

In 2009, I had a chance to witness first-hand to how insanely hard it can be to come back from a knee injury when my brother tore his meniscus. Here are the three major truths I learned back then.

[Read more…]

Cryotherapy for Joint Pain: How to apply Ice Packs Correctly

Cryotherapy, the use of low temperatures for medical purposes, Cryotherapy Packs can also be used for headachescan be applied to a surprising variety of conditions. On this page we will investigate Cryotherapy in more detail and determine how we can use ice packs to treat joint pain and injuries. We will also look at the proper application of cold packs, other areas of their application, and the advantages professional ice packs have over home-made solutions.

[Read more…]

Knee Strengthening Exercises: strength training for healthy knees

If you’re a healthy individual, you can use the knee strengthening exercises on this page to do injury prehab, increase your lower body strength and improve your flexibility. The exercises will also make you a better athlete. If you have knee pain, the basic knee strengthening exercises will get you back on the path towards being pain-free, at which point you can progress to performing the more demanding exercises.

[Read more…]

Psoas Stretch

Strong and flexible hip flexors will go a long way in ensuring athletic records and long-term (knee) health. Since people move less and less these days, hips get tighter and as a consequence the number of psoas stretches performed around the globe is probably at an all-time high in the present.

In this post we will explore the most effective ways to stretch your psoas, the reasons why you would want to do a psoas stretch and under which circumstances you should not stretch.
[Read more…]

Some love for the iliotibial band

Iliotibial bandThe iliotibial band is a thick layer of connective tissue on the outside of your thigh and several muscles attach to it. This attachment site can cause serious knee pain such as patellar tendonitis and while it’s a good idea to find the underlying reasons for a tight iliotibial band, stretching can bring some immediate relief. Of course you’ll also get to jump on the good old foam roller again.

Check out this page for more information: ITB Stretches: iliotibial band repair guide

Cycling Knee Pain

Cycling Knee Pain: a creative solution?

Cycling knee pain can be dealt with in many ways - Picture by Nicki Varkevisser

Walking, running and swimming are utterly inefficient when it comes to energy expenditure in relation to distance travelled. Numerous animals are better suited for long-distance travel, but we have something special too: our ingenuity. If we add a bicycle, humans are right up there with birds, at least in terms of energy efficiency.

There’s no denying that the bicycle is an insanely useful invention, yes, even called “most popular vehicle in world” and I whole-heartedly agree, but like with everything else, bicycling has its flaws. This article deals with cycling knee pain, its causes and solutions.

Knee Pain and Bicycling

[Read more…]