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Skating Knees - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Skating Knees
I (finally) went skating again today. I've been meaning to for awhile, but KN's gentle prodding helped me schedule it and force myself out there, for which I'm grateful. I hadn't been on the ice since December, I think. I could tell...my feet hurt! I guess they've been spreading out and relaxing some, now that I haven't been cramming them in stiff leather boots regularly. Poor footsies.

But obviously I wasn't there for my feet. I was there for my knee. And my knee... well, it still hurt some. *sigh* I didn't do anything very fancy (especially since I'd forgotten a hairband), just worked on forward and backward stroking and crossovers mostly. My forward crossovers felt pretty good, actually, though I could tell I was out of practice.

My right-over-left backward crossovers remain my trouble spot. I guess that's not surprising, given that this has been the case ever since I first hurt it around 16 months ago. (Side thought: Sixteen months! And on the 25th of this month it'll be a year since surgery. Wow.)

In-depth self-analysis

Basically when I slide my right leg way out to the side, do a little "hook" then pull it back toward me (the power part of a back-crossover), it still doesn't feel right. It was this very movement, way back when I first injured myself, that made me realize something was Very Wrong with my knee. In basically felt like, when I put weight on the leg at that angle, my leg started to bend inward, or sideways -- a direction no hinge joint is supposed to go.

Now though, it feels different. It does NOT feel like it's bending sideways, so that's a good thing. But it still doesn't feel good. Also, the more I do it, the more it hurts...and when I got off the ice my knee buckled when I straightened it out to take a step. It almost feels like there is too much up and down separation in the knee. When I straighten it out to the side and give that extra "kick" before I pull it back, it's like the joint separates a little bit more than it's supposed to. By separate, I mean it feels like the shin bone and the thigh bone come apart more than they ought.

This makes sense, thinking about it, because a couple of times I've noticed a similar sensation in it when doing aerobic kick-boxing moves. I've done an extra aggressive front snap-kick and felt that eerie painful feeling, like the bottom part of my leg went a little too far.

So, where does that leave me? Although I still experience some discomfort and fear sometimes, I can do everything I've tried other than skating. Since I seem to have side-to-side stability, I think the new ligament is doing its job. I hope. I wonder if it is just still a little too elastic, right now? And if so, I wonder if that elasticity will go away?

More importantly though: I think I need to build up more knee-muscles. My major muscle groups are fine, but the little muscles around the knee need help. That smooth sideways pull, that is so vital in figure skating, really isn't exercised by anything else I've done. Also, I've been favoring that movement for sixteen months -- no wonder it isn't easy! I need to find something that will work that specific motion, and start doing it every day.

Another thing I need to work on is straightening my leg. My knees tend to hyper-extend by nature, and I suspect it is that hyper-extension that is giving me trouble. The knee gets a little looser when it is hyper-extended, and I need to re-grow my muscles there to protect it. I have been doing things like squats, straightening out to a locked leg -- but maybe I need to do it on just the right leg? I'm not sure, but I need to experiment more.

The thing is: in PT they told me not to allow it to hyper-extend. But that's what my leg wants to do, naturally! It's going to do it anyway when relaxed, causing me pain, so I think I need to make it strong enough that it will be stable in that position. My left one works that way, after all.

I also need to focus on my walking. I think my left leg still straightens out a tiny bit more than my right when I walk. Not so that I'm noticeably favoring it, but so that the right doesn't extend quite as much. If I get in the habit of extending and flexing it every time I walk, that might help a lot.

This means I need to go back to wearing FLAT SHOES more regularly. I've gone back to wearing heels to work, because they're cuter -- but making my knee strong is more important. So my new rule is: heels only for special occasions. Flat shoes for daily wear, until I can skate with ease again.

Okay, that's all the ideas I have for now. Right now my knee is "mostly" stable, but at almost-twelve months I want it to be completely stable. Which means I need to work harder, be more creative, and pay attention to what it needs!

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Comments
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: March 8th, 2005 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
RE squats I would do both maybe at different weights at seperately times but you do want both knees to be equally muscular.

Leg extensions on a machine might be easier than squats.
_goodintentions From: _goodintentions Date: March 8th, 2005 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
skating = love

that's good that you're trying it again

I think I'm going to have leg problesm when I'm older
kevinnickerson From: kevinnickerson Date: March 9th, 2005 12:46 am (UTC) (Link)
"but KN's gentle prodding helped"

Gentle? Oh Kay.

"That smooth sideways pull, that is so vital in figure skating, really isn't exercised by anything else I've done." ... "I need to find something that will work that specific motion, and start doing it every day."

Uh, doesn't the answer just scream out?
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 9th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, you didn't beat or drag me onto the ice. I call that gentle. (:

You mean skate every day? The problem is that skating is expensive and inconvenient. The rinks are only open to the public at certain times. Like I can skate during my lunch hour at work, if I go between noon and 1:30, and it costs $4.50 a session. That adds up, and there is even less available ice on the weekends. If I want to do figure skating instead of "general public" sessions, that costs even more per session.

But I did some experimenting this evening, looking for other poses and exercises that feel like they're using the same muscles I felt on the ice. Ideally, I want something I can do while watching television.

hmm, I had a "slide board" which was supposed to mimic ice skating. I never liked it much, but I wonder if I could dig it out and find a way to make it help me?
kevinnickerson From: kevinnickerson Date: March 9th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that was what I meant. You had that bonus you needed to spend...

How about inline? When spring hits you could be doing loops around the cars at work.
shadowriderhope From: shadowriderhope Date: March 9th, 2005 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, congratulations on getting out there and trying it again! :)

One thing I can very highly recommend for knee/ankle stabilization (I also have knees that tend to hyperextend/bend backwards) is tai chi. I do Wu style, and I think it's particularly good in that it focuses on 100% weight transfer from leg to leg, and so your knees/ankles really get a good workout.

I also used to sprain my ankles several times a year, to the point that one doc told me if I kept doing it, I might need to have surgery to repair the stretching out of the tendons (?). Since I started doing tai chi about three years ago, I haven't sprained an ankle once.

Best of luck to you in your continued return to the ice! :)
(Deleted comment)
cannibal From: cannibal Date: March 9th, 2005 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know, but it sounds to me like you need to go talk to your surgeon and get a second opinion from another surgeon, as well as going back to PT and talking to someone very experienced in working with sports injuries, to decide exactly what to do. If you choose wrong, you could make it worse... besides, maybe high heels are good for you (he said hopefully).
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