Well-Meaning People

I went to a friend’s exercise studio last week. To do Zumba. I knew it was a bad idea. I have a torn meniscus in one knee and am prone to severe knee inflammation and pain. My orthopedist has told me “NO HIGH IMPACT ACTIVITY”. While I listened, I just wanted to do something fun and high energy. I’ve been very sedentary with this injury and I’ve gained weight and I don’t like it. I need to get moving and lose the weight. I kept up with the group for about five minutes and then started doing modified steps because the pain had started and was steadily growing in intensity. After about 25 minutes, I’d had enough. I was ready to climb in my truck and drive home but my friend insisted that I get on the recumbent bike and pedal to keep my muscles from stiffening up. It was good advice but I expect that from her. She’s a nurse and like me has been in the business for 20 years.

One of the ladies in the class, decided to make me feel welcome and introduced herself. She gave me some helpful tips about the dance steps. Concentrate on the footwork she said. Don’t worry so much about the arms yet. It was also good advice. After I got on the bike she stopped by to see how I was doing. I didn’t share my injury with her. I don’t really know her. Not only that but most people aren’t really interested in how I injured my knee. So I just said I’d gotten tired and was now riding the bike, keeping lose, stretching muscles.

This week, I chose not to come to the studio. I’ve had enough pain for the month of July and think I will at least wait until August before intentionally trying to aggravate the injury. Besides, I had just adopted a new kitten and was spending quality time with her in the isolation room (she had a bad case of fleas and needed to be treated and kept separated from the rest of the feline population). When my phone rang and I saw my friend’s name pop up I eagerly answered as, in addition to being the exercise and health  guru, she is also the cat whisperer. Before I could tell her my news she told me that she had someone who wanted to speak to me and this woman from the studio came on the line. She proceeded to tell me that she really wanted to see me at the studio the next week and that we would just start with the arm part of the Zumba steps while I stood in one spot. I wanted her off the phone. I wanted to get back to my kitten. I wanted to talk to my friend about my kitten. I did not want to talk to this nosy woman. So I said, sure, I’ll try that. See you next week. Then I proceeded to put it out of my mind.

However, this morning I started thinking about that conversation. This woman doesn’t know me from Adam’s housecat and yet she has the audacity to offer me advice about my exercise capacity. She offers it like she is a healthcare professional but it’s bad advice. My orthopedic doctor specifically said, bike riding is one of the best activities for a knee injury. It does not put strain on the joint. This woman told me that pedaling was a repetitive motion and was bad for the knee. Patients undergoing knee replacement spend hours in something called a CPM machine (continuous positive motion, repetitive motion!) to keep the joint from seizing up. It also strengthens the muscles that surround the joint. Standing in one spot on a hard surface causes the joint to bear down with the force of body weight. It’s much worse than just walking or shifting from side to side.

I’m sure this woman was just trying to help. She is a well-meaning individual. I appreciate her attempt. However, if I wasn’t a nurse, if I hadn’t already gotten the advice of health professionals, if I didn’t have a strong smattering of common sense, I might have listened to this woman. I could have returned to the studio, standing there while my joints ground together, waving my arms around like a loon. I could have taken handfuls of ibuprofen trying to reduce the swelling that always accompanies foolish behavior. What a great world if well-meaning individuals were required to provide references from peer-reviewed journals for the advice they gave? I’m not saying they shouldn’t offer help or advice. I’m just saying they should put a little effort into it instead of just offering their uneducated opinions.

But that’s just my uneducated opinion!


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