Friday, September 24, 2021

Of A Knee Injury And Sedentary Work

This week, my knee went wonky on me at iai.

This it not the first time it has happened within the last year - it happened about 7 months ago on the other knee.  We spend a fair amount of time in iai training from the position of seiza (think sitting on your knees) or tatehiza (literally "standing knee", or a rather unusual position where the butt is largely placed on the sole of the left foot and the right foot is pulled over to the left leg with the knee up) so I suppose that it is not a surprise - except that prior to this, I have had almost zero issues with my knees.

I am wondering how much the work changes from The Plague are to blame.

Oh, not from any sort of residual lingering issues from either illness or other things.  But a change in how I move during the day.

Before - when I was in the office - while I still had a great many meetings, I also had them in different places.  And so I walked - a great deal, from conference room to conference room and office to office, often talking while standing.  Now, I tend to sit a great deal as I virtually "walk" from meeting to meeting or call to call.

Yes, I do walk every day in the morning with Poppy the Brave and sometimes in the evening (non-iai days) but it is only isolated events at specific times of the day, not the sort of regular movement that was going on before.  It is fair to say that I am a great deal more sedentary than I used to be.

(As I note, I do still go to the gym three days a week and practice iai every day I am not at class - but again, specific events, not the sort of general daily movement I used to have.)

This, on the whole, is not a good development.

The problem is that I am not really sure what do about (to be fair, I think I just realized it is an issue).  The electronic work world model does not allow one to even "walk" between conference rooms every hour.  And sitting in front of a computer as much as I do know does not even offer the benefit of standing or stretching while listening - especially with the continued expansion of the use of cameras during meetings (as if, somehow, that makes things more personal).

True - I am not getting younger and from everything I hear from those who have gone before me, this sort of thing inevitably happens at some point.  Still, there is no reason to accelerate the matter by making it worse.  

Which simply means I need to figure out a more "active" sedentary work environment.


  1. Anonymous4:54 AM

    When I go to a restroom break, I sometimes do 20 - 25 squats. It takes about a minute and a mini work-out seems to help, especially when done several times a day.

    1. Anonymous - That is a great idea! I do have a perfectly good floor as well as training weapons, so a five minute wellness break is not beyond the realm of possibility. Thank you!

  2. I've noticed a complete flabbification of my muscles since the pneumonia. It has been difficult at times to move from one room to the other without losing wind. I'm just hoping I have enough muscle tone left to start some bitty strength training when / if the wind comes back.

    Anon has the right idea. Coffee break time, I used to do a few pushups, or pullups depending on the site I was at. Squats, etc are good.

    The horse stance from 7 Star Kung Fu helped my knees tremendously, when I was a much younger man. Find what works, and add it to the routine. Standing desks are available now, or at least were, before the pox. Just don't pull a 'sports injury'. We are getting a bit older.

    1. STxAr, I remember when my father was recovering from pneumonia how weak he was when he came home from the hospital. If it is at all any comfort, he completely recovered over time.

      I do have a small book on stances - I will definitely pull it out again.

  3. Our "method of work" these days doesn't help, TB, but neither does age. You've never had knee issues until you start having them. Then they never seem to go away. Then it's the shoulders, or whatever. The machine doesn't run forever... Sometimes I wish we had grease fittings on our joints... "Lubed for life" is a conundrum, since life is determined by the lube...

    1. Sadly Pete, the warranty has expired on every part and am apparently not returnable for a new model.

      One thing I could do - and I do not as much as I should - is warm up and stretch more. Yes, it is not a panacea, but it would help some.

    2. Y'know, I've caused myself MORE trouble by "warming up" than by just taking it easy going into a workout. I especially had trouble with my knees after starting a warmup regimen. The only thing I could think of was that the warmups loosened things up so much that I had too much slop in those mechanisms. I stopped doing the warmups and the problems went away. Go with what works...

    3. Pete, it is not a bad observation. On the whole I do a very simplified warm up series before working out. Perhaps for me, I run the risk of doing something too off kilter and thus straining something I did not intend.

  4. Sounds like you need to invest in a treadmill and a standup desk. I know a few people who have similar setups at home now.

    I was the opposite. In my career, I did a lot of walking on concrete, standing on concrete as I tinkered with various machines I designed, etc. My knees were a wreck and I was in pain most nights in bed. After I left my job, in about three months, the pains went away and my knees feel better now than they did twenty years ago. In fact my ortho guy at one point said my knee would most likely need to be replaced at some point to the last time where he said it looks like a normal healthy knee.

    1. Ed, we have an exercise bike at home inside (outside in the day it is a little too hot) and we have a "breakfast bar" which is neither an actual bar nor something we eat breakfast at, but is precisely the right height for a standing desk (I literally thought of it as I read your comment).

      That said, I do just need to get in the habit of wearing knee sleeves for Iai. It is like my glasses - I kept "taking them off" when I thought I did not need them until people started to say "Do you need your glasses? You are squinting all the time."

      For all the good practice and healthy living, time takes its toll none the less.

    2. Anonymous5:58 PM

      Hi TB,
      My apologies up front - this is too long to be polite. However, once again, your post has struck a chord.

      I believe I am of an approximately similar vintage to you, and have a background in karate. I am much flexible and functional than my friends of the same age, and used to terrify my physio when I'd drop from standing to seiza, pause, and then stand straight back up again from seiza, no hands. Due to an old injury (broken ankle) I was forced to stop karate a decade ago.

      My metabolism has slowed vastly since I ceased karate. A generous layer of insulation has appeared around my body, especially my midriff, without explanation. I weight train (hard) regularly and complement it with significant cardio on alternate days. No effect on the insulation; in fact it has expanded. Shamefully, my life-long natural flexibility is a memory. Planks have better flexibility than me now.

      Functional fitness is always my goal, so I tried Crossfit. Unbelievable results for three months until one session where 150 air squats in a row resulted in a torn meniscus. No more crossfit and a sustained stern talking to from my physio. Hey - I don't feel like I am _THAT_ old !

      I'm currently maintaining my cardio levels via 8 km brisk hill walking every day, and now experimenting with my diet. I've eliminated most sugars. Three weeks in, already eight Kg (approx 16 lbs) down and feeling incredible. My flexibility is returning (slowly) and my mental focus feels scalpel-sharp. I'll report back in 6 months and again in 12 months to report if this is sustainable over the short-medium term. I'm working closely with my doctor and my blood work is being closely monitored. This is very much an experiment (my background is science), but the early results seem promising.

      Warm regards,


    3. KA - Friend, length of response will never be considered rude here, so no worries on that part.

      I have been largely fortunate that I have sustained no significant injuries in 12+ years of Iai. Part of that is due to my Sensei, who is very insistent about making sure one does not push one's body beyond what it can bear, part of that is the nature of the art (minimal physical contact, everything can be done from sitting or standing), and part because I came into it without a long history of sports (and therefore, sports injuries). Something like the ankle injury you describe - and the resulting halt in martial arts - would depress me to no end; I admire your positive nature in moving on.

      In weight training, I am fortunate that The Berserker (in spite of fearsome name and description I have given of him) is a consummate professional, who loves what he does and has studied extensively in it. Although younger than I, he believes in training for years and years and that overall body strength in principle, not just in "how much can you lift", is important. Thus, my one time Deadlift PR of 143 kg (315 lbs) will remain that: a one time event. I simply do not need that sort of strength in real life and the risk of injury is too much (that said, I have hit 2 x 127 kg in Deadlift in the recent past, so I may be giving myself less credit than I deserve).

      For me - and as it sounds, for you (Congratulations - that is fantastic work!!) - diet and aerobic along with my current regime is the way to go. Although I have not talked about it here much I have actually dropped about 3 kg/7 lbs over the last month as well (partially because I am getting ready for some larger walks and I would prefer not to drag the extra weight around!). I like to think my sugar consumption is not that bad, but it is really hard to get completely away from it in the modern world. Also, of course, less "insulation" would lessen the load on my knees and other parts as well.

      I will look forward to the progress reports!


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