When acute pain and swelling occurs in the knee, it’s very important to diminish this inflammatory response and begin immediate treatment to limit further progression. Apply ice packs to the knee for 15-minute intervals four to five times per day. Oral anti-inflammatory medications may also be helpful in some cases. If pain and swelling persists despite these first-aid measures, an evaluation by a qualified physician is necessary. If not treated appropriately, increased swelling and pain will result in the inability to sit with the knee bent for any period of time.
The key is to prevent knee injuries from occurring in the first place. Prevention begins with sitting properly with the hips and knees bent to approximately 80 degrees (FIG. 1). Sitting too low on the throne will place increased stress across the knee, hip, and lower back, predisposing you to injury.
We can do a number of simple exercises on a daily basis to help stretch and strengthen the muscles that support the knee and leg. Maintaining flexibility is extremely important and should be practiced daily (see “Stretches For Drummers” in the December 2005 issue of DRUM! Magazine). The following simple exercises can also be performed daily in your home, studio, or hotel room.
Straight Leg Raises (FIG. 2). Performed with the knee straight, by raising and lowering the leg 15—20 times in succession without touching the ground.
Wall Sitting And Wall Slides (FIG. 3). Wall sitting begins with your back against a wall and your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. At first, just hold this position for 15—20 seconds, then stand for 20 seconds. Repeat five times. When this exercise becomes easy to perform, it can be increased to wall slides, which start in the same sitting position except that you slide up and down the wall, beginning and ending in the sitting position. This should be slowly repeated 10—15 times.
Pillow Squeeze (FIG. 4). Another exercise to develop inner thigh strength, the knees are squeezed together and held for 15—20 seconds 10—15 times. You can also perform simple forward lunges repeated 15—20 times on each leg. More advanced exercises involving weights require more sophisticated equipment and should be performed only two to three times per week. Practicing some of these simple exercises and maintaining good posture can help prevent knee problems.