Weightlifting & Exercise/Gentle knee exercises
My mother is 50 years old, morbidly obese, and the cartilage in her knees has worn away, which makes exercise excruciating, which, of course, doesn't assist in the weight problem. She's wanting to do some exercises that will help strengthen her knee and engage the muscles to support it, without risking yet more damage to her knee joint. (She's been advised to just get a knee-replacement, but she's terrified of the thought of that, my grandmother died from complications of a knee-replacement, after undergoing 8 replacements on one single knee in a 5 year span. I can't say as I blame her, I also have been advised to get a replacement, but that's not going to happen any time soon!)
Is there any exercises you could recommend she look into?
I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother's passing and the predicament your mom is in. I can see the apprehension about getting a knee replacement she has after what happened to your grandmother but if the cartilage is gone chances are she is going to need the knee replacement otherwise she can look forward to a future of extreme pain I am sorry to say. My mother had her knee replaced when she was 69, she is now 84 and the knee is still doing great. I remember her prior to the surgery limping and enduring much discomfort from the pain. I must admit I do have some questions for you beginning with why did your grandmother have 8 knee replacements, one should have done it (two at the most as they wear-out after time)and you are quite young yourself, why are they recommending a knee replacement for you? You mom is still quite young (even though she is considered middle age) and could potentially have a long life ahead of her so I recommend seeing an Orthopedist (specialist that focuses on the diagnosis, correction, prevention, and treatment of patients with skeletal deformities - disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and skin.) Get a second opinion as well but I can tell you that with the cartilage worn away (called menisci)she has a painful life ahead of her if nothing is done. Amanda the fact that she is morbidly obese is what worries me as that will most certainly lead to heart disease, stroke, aneurysm, cancer or diabetes. It could be all of the above, some of the above but without a doubt, at least one of the above. The way to combat this is via movement/exercise, and if she is in pain and immobile this is not going to happen. There are exercises she can do but tell her to first get clearance from her doctor, this is imperative with her health condition and issues. First, if she can get access to a pool at say a YMCA/YWCA or where ever, that would be excellent. The buoyancy of the water will take her weight off the joint and allow her to exercise pain free, or the best she can anyway. There are often water aerobics type classes for people with your mom's condition that can help them be up and about. If, and only after she gets medical clearance to start a workout program she should start exercising by first warming up on a recumbent bike (the ones with the back support and your legs pedaling out in front of you) for 10 minutes to get blood circulating throughout the body to avoid injury. Now for specific exercises for her knees, we need to strengthen the muscles that support the knee. These primarily are the quadriceps (front of upper legs) and the hamstrings (back of upper legs). Because of her size and condition I don't want her doing squats or lunges, but she should do leg presses on a leg-press machine. Conversely she should also do leg curls, where you sit on a machine, legs out in front of you to begin (with a foam pad over the top of your leg just below the knee to support the knee.) She should do a relatively light weight to begin, a weight she can do 8-10 times for 3 sets. As she gets stronger you can go up incrementally in weight, say 5 or 10, pounds as needed. There are many gyms that are cheap and open 24 hours such as Planet Fitness (which I use)among others. PF is great because they cater to people with little or no workout experience, people who are intimidated by gyms and exercising in front of others. If in doubt ask a trainer at the club to show you how to do the exercise properly, YouTube has great videos as well to show you the proper mechanics of the exercise. Amanda I am guessing there is depression and self-doubt and regret which often accompanies people with conditions such as your mom's. If it is really bad you may need to get a mental health or Minister involved to assist them in overcoming these obstacles. If your mom is reluctant to do anything, please be patient and a constant source of encouragement and support (I am sure you are already)as she is in a critically dangerous place right now. But keep the faith, all is not lost and she can turn this around, but she has to believe she can and this maybe the hurdle you have to help her overcome. At any rate she has a long road ahead of her, but that's ok long roads can still lead to your destination just as much as short ones. But first of all lets get her seeing an Orthopedist (probably will need a referral from her primary care if she has one) and if she has insurance or is on disability, check with them to see how she needs to proceed. Amanda if there is any way I can be of further assistance please let me know. I wish you and your mother all the best.