T Nation

Torn Meniscus...A Few Questions

So I tore my meniscus in my left knee gardening. Who know squatting for too long and leaning a little too far to the side to pick weeds was such a bad thing. Wish I did it while doing something cooler then gardening… or at least when I was hauling the 200lbs boulders out of my garden… anyways.

I injured myself in the beginning of september. I was cleared to lift weights again back in december by my physiotherapist - even to squat as long as I don’t go past 90 - but that was before my MRI results came in and they determined I need surgery. I haven’t seen the physiotherapist since the MRI.

I’m currently waiting to see a second surgeon as the first one avoided all my questions and told me he was going to go in, cut out a chunk of my meniscus and I would have 20% loss of mobility… which he considered to be excellent.

When I asked if I would be able to play sports of lift weights again he dodged my question, saying I would be able to resume “most normal day to day activities” and kicked me out of his office (go see the nice lady up front and sign the forms).

20% scares me, as the knee flexes over 130 degrees so that’s a loss of 25-26 degrees. ick.

So I went to my family doctor and requested a second opinion from another surgeon. Problem is, the good surgeons it seems take ~6 months to get an appt with. So I’m stuck for a bit. I already waited 5 months to see the last surgeon. Now, 20% may be the best I can hope for, but then maybe the next guy realises that although I have a computer desk job, I actually like to get out and play some sports etc. Heck, I’m only 31 and still want to lead an active life for many more years.

I haven’t lifted since august. I’m getting fat and going a bit nuts from lack of activity. I have no pain/swelling in my knee. I can go past 90 in a squat (body weight) with no pain/clicking etc.

The only time the knee bothers me is when I twist at all. Then it pops, clicks and burns. Thus I know I can’t play any sports (I enjoy basketball and squash, both of which will destroy my knee with twisting).

I posted this in the beginner forum because I’ve always had a very basic workout routine. Basic deadlift, squat, chins, pullups, dips, bench, overhead press and occassionally throw in some lunges. Squats are my favorite exercise, everything about them just feels right and they are my heaviest lift. I’ve been lifting on and off for 6 years now, workout at home in my squat cage, never really got too serious about it just like to keep from getting too fat.

Anyways, I honestly do not know many exercise variations and I can’t think of a solid replacement for squats or any method to reduce potential damage to my knee.

I’ve thought of doing squats over a bench, so I can’t go too low.

I googled a bunch and found that some people suggest putting plates under your heels to reduce knee stress, but I don’t understand the mechanics of that - how does this reduce knee strain? It seems to me that it would increase it as you’d be able to squat deeper?

I’ve never attempted front squats or any of the variations - are there any that have less impact on the knees?

Is there any good replacement for squats?

I am going to see my physiotherapist again (haven’t been there since december) which is costing me $50. I just want to be armed with some knowledge when I approach him about lifting weights again. It seems every physio I’ve talked too (and paid to see) does not believe in weight lifting and feels light walking (no hills) and swimming are the best forms of exercise and if you REALLY wanna go crazy, you can always try out the recumbent bike.

Unfortunately, I don’t lose fat doing light cardio but I respond to weights very well. Plus I enjoy weights and since sports are pretty much out… I want to do something.