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Knee pain is not a prerequisite to aging. In fact, almost all knee injuries can be easily prevented and treated. The secret is knowing exactly how to take care of these important joints when they're hurting and to prevent injury while they're healthy. This simple strengthening and stretching routine targets the muscles that protect your knees to avoid undue stress and strain. It also targets painful areas to speed in their healing. Physical therapist Chantal Donnelly created this gentle routine to help you exercise your way to a good knee health.
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things that make it laudable:
1) Instructor is straightforward, encouraging but not annoyingly perky
2) The exercises are varied and well-explained and take up a finite period of time (36 minutes)
3) Anatomical reasons for each exercise or stretch are explained
4) Despite being rather active before my knee issue, I was pleasantly surprised to find some of these exercises really challenged me.
5)Instructor made me feel confident I would not get more injured by:
a) explaining exercises well
b)giving caveats (make sure the pillow is below your hips to protect your back)
c) and giving permission to stop or stay at a low level in case of pain
Things I would improve:
1) there is no heads up about props. Be sure to have on hand the following before starting: a chair, a towel to roll, a pillow and a strap (like a yoga strap)
2) The models were helpful but a bit creepy, pretty women but they never smile, seemed a bit unnatural and made it feel more like work.
3) video angle: sometimes the instructor would say "you only need to lift this high" and the camera would be on someone else
4) captive audience commercials for other products at beginning: I spent $14 to own this, no need to shamelessly try to get me to keep buying, made me feel you just have your bottom line not my health in mind at Gaia
5) Music was a bit new agey especially during anatomy parts which I find distracting and irritating but as I become more comfortable with the routine I will use my own music.
I know how frustrating it can be for busy people to become injured and the prospect of using a video in lieu of or as a supplement to PT is appealing and this one despite some flaws, seems well worth the investment. Assuming all goes well I will keep this video as part of my active routine even after healing for healthy knee maintenance.
Quick update: I am still doing these exercises months after purchase and feel they help, see bonus features for a way to skip to routines or do a modified, short version
A caveat. My friend was suffering from severe knee pain and so I sent her the DVD immediately. She found no relief as she had NO knee cartilage. Therefore, even steroid injections, pain killers were not effective. Unfortunately surgery appears to be the last resort. However, if you DO have some knee cartilage, take chondroiton sulfate (cosamin DS is the doctor recommended brand) and do the DVD, you will have instant pain relief.
As for the criticisms of it being too much information, too many commercials, and threatening men's masculinity and not increasing muscle bulk visibly, here are some counterpoints.
The information I feel is absolutely vital. Without it, you will become dependent forever on other physical therapists/treatments. Knowledge is power, and Ms. Donnelly wants you to become independent, the hallmark of hte best teachers. After watching the entire DVD, I knew IMMEDIATELY what I needed to focus on: strength in the hip/glute areas and flexibility everywhere (this is because I do weight lifting for the quads, hamstrings and calves at the gym). Since you know what causes knee pain, and if you know your weaknesses, you can do ONLY the exercises targeting the weaknesses. Even if you do NOT know what your problem areas are after watching the informational portions, once you do ALL the exercises, if you note any one that is causing any difficulty (and others that are really easy), write down the hard exercises, and concentrate on them, ignore the really easy ones.
Furthermore, there is a menu option that you can pick and chose the exercise, press enter, and Ms. Donnelly will go through only those that you chose, so that you can skip the instructional parts. After awhile, I knew by heart the exercises I needed to do (I wrote them down as well for reference), so I can bypass the DVD completely, and just do them from memory. However, I like to do the DVD sometimes as I find the humor refreshing and healing and it's like taking a class that I paid a lot of money for.
There ARE too many annoying commercials, so why not turn on the DVD, do errands, and once the commercials are over, then do your exercises? When I first started out, first thing in the morning, I turn on the DVD/TV, do my back exercises (the Y's Way to a Healthy Back by Melleby is the only book that helped with back pain for me), and then go through the menu to start the knee exercises. Again, after 2 weeks or so, I can do this through rote memory, without reliance on the DVD. I also wrote down all the exercises for reference, and then finally did only the ones that are giving me trouble.
Again, you can save time, by writing down what the exercises you need to do, and refer to that, and never needing the DVD again, becoming truly independent.
As for the criticism that most men will not do this video as it will threaten their masculinity, I feel that all men are NOT that fragile and pathetic, that men are actually sane, and will do the exercises as it will relieve complete pain. The other complaint of the same reviewer, is that does not build muscles visibly. However,the goal is to eradicate knee pain, not to be a body builder. As long as you have adequate strength and flexibility in all areas that are specific to the knee, you will NOT feel pain whatsoever (again, as long as you have some cartilage).
If you want to build muscles, I strongly advise Schwarzenegger's classic bible, "Modern Encyclopedia of Body Building". I revised it (as it was WAY TOO INTENSE FOR ME) to being 15, 12, 10, 8, 6 reps of 2 to 3 sets of each muscle group to failure (any short cuts do NOT work for me) twice a week. If you follow his book, you cannot fail to gain muscle mass. I don't even follow him religiously, as it is way too much, but even so, that is the only way I was able to get stronger. However, for knee pain relief, the DVD works.
The reasons why the DVD is so helpful:
1. Easy to follow with clear verbal and visual instructions
2. Ms. Donnelly is very encouraging and positive
3. Mentioning proper form throughout the movements
4. Very gentle exercises.
5. I enjoy the humor (humor has been scientifically documented to reduce pain)
6. It is meditative
7. Doesn't take much time at all, but reaping huge benefits.
8. It is very safe.
I hope that Ms. Donnelly will work on DVDs like this for neck, shoulder, and back pain--I have written to her pleading that she covers these topics in future DVDs, so I'm crossing my fingers. I will definitely buy all three in a heartbeat!!
The stretch section is absolutely wonderful.
The 7 minute mini workout is ok, but not something I'd reach for often.
My only complaint with the main workout is that there is no "exercises only" option. Each time, you have to fast forward through the explaining part. It would greatly help if you could select the workout with or without the extra info.
The only issue that I have with this video is that the explanatory and the exercise sections are combined. If you don't want to listen to the explanations each time you do the exercises, you need to have your remote handy to fast forward through the talking.
It's also irritating that Gaiam will not allow you to go to the DVD menu immediately and requires that you fast forward through the advertising at the beginning of the DVD.
Overall, the minor irritations are overcome by a very effective set of exercises that really work.