Back in the 1980’s I had a motorcycle wreck. After 27 surgeries my left leg was saved, but my knee was virtually fused. I had less than 5 degrees of flexion. Two years ago my knee was replaced. I still lack the soft tissue for full flexion, but 41 beats 5 degrees.
Here is the funny part. I have had quite a bit of trouble learning to walk. You spend a few decades twisting your body around to drag along a peg leg and it is hard to move properly. Improvement started to come by exercising on the Nordic Track ski machine. It built up muscles long in disuse.
We have a long hallway at work that is all glass on one side. I could see my reflection and try to walk back to my office without the old lean, twist, and drag motion. I just couldn’t get it down.
Now, this is going to seem like a change of subject, but I’ll get back to walking in a second. My wife and I have long enjoyed watching older couples dance when we go on our cruise vacations. After our last cruise, I decided that with my new knee we should give dancing a try ourselves. So we signed up at Arthur Murray here in Raleigh.
Frankly, I’m not much of a dancer. Some of the steps require rocking back and forth on a foot, other steps just require weight shifts, then some call for rolling the heel and instep, and others staying on the balls of your feet. But practicing the steps has had an unintended and unexpected side benefit. I am walking with a much more normal gait. So, after this extremely scientific study, I say to all of you with total knee replacements. Get a ski machine or elliptical to work your knee and sign up for dancing lessons! You may not become John Travolta or an athlete, but who knows? For me it is enough to just be walking a little more easily.