Playing Until My Knees Swell And Feet Bleed

knee2009 was the year I rediscovered tennis.  Ironically, I figured I’d better utilize the club as much as possible because I couldn’t afford any other luxuries after the markets imploded!  Just last year, I failed miserably at breaking a 10 handicap (got to 10.2 and ricocheted) in golf and decided to quit before I threw my bag into the lake.

For the past 15 years, I forsook the game I played so diligently as a youngster.  It was boring running around, hitting a ball back and forth.  Now, I’m hooked again because of the camaraderie of the game.  Although tennis is an individual sport, there’s a team aspect to it if you join a league.  Meanwhile, my evil plan is to get my wife to get good enough so we can play some competitive mixed doubles my next summer!


Despite all the passion, I have a couple swollen knees that makes sitting cross-legged difficult.  If I try and extend my legs after sitting in cobbler’s pose, there’s so much pain, it’s hard to walk for the first several minutes.  Meanwhile, my feet often blister due to the constant friction caused by unnatural side-to-side movements.  The doctor says all I have to do is rest, but I can’t.

How can I rest when I get a daily e-mail from my buddies wanting a rematch after last night’s beat down?  How can I rest when it’s just so fun to needle my opponents with smack talk for a couple hours at a time?  I’m a tennis junkie.  The competition is exhilarating to the point where you often feel like you’re observing yourself play, an out of body experience if you will.

When I’m on the court, all the pain miraculously goes away.  It’s the next day when the aches reappear, yet I long to play again. I realize that if I don’t take care of my body and allow it to heal I risk my long term health.  But, then I rationalize and say it’s about having fun now, no matter what the cost.


Like a consumer addicted to credit, I’m an old fart addicted to tennis.  The costs aren’t just physical but also monetary as well.  I’ve upped my insurance coverage for 2010, setting me back $600 in premiums because I’m going to check out both knees, wrists, shoulders, and head!  The head examination was due to an outrageous fight on the basketball courts last winter.  Don’t get me started.  My day of reckoning will come, but I don’t seem to care until it does.  Help!

Recommendation: I encourage everyone to shop around for health insurance, especially with the Affordable Care Act debacle that is not proving to be cheaper for many people. The internet has really helped lower the cost of insuring yourself and your family. eHealthInsurance has some of the lowest rates and best coverage due to its largest network online. They are based right here in the Bay Area, and I have met a number of their representatives. Take care of your knees!


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  1. Gordie says

    I think we’re human and simply enjoy pleasure. Yours is tennis. However, if there is a high risk of your ending up decrepid and arthritic soon because of your tennis knees, then please consider if there’s another sport that can bring you as much enjoyment. :)
    .-= Gordie´s last blog ..How To Use Goals, Autosuggestion, Commitment And Consistency. =-.

  2. says

    Get some glucasomin, it can help. My dad has terrible knees and before he officially stopped playing ball all together took this and he said it helped a little bit. Get it at any GNC or CVS.
    .-= Craig´s last blog ..Funny Money Grubbing Secret Tips From All of You =-.

  3. says

    Unfortunately, yes….I do this too.

    What I try to do is “fire myself” from making decisions in areas where I demonstrate a poor ability to take care of myself.

    Do I want to eat chocolate until New Years Eve? Yes……but I have relinquished control over my food plan so I don’t. I just follow direction. It’s simple but difficult I know.

    If you are hurting yourself by playing tennis you gotta take care of yourself Sam. In the end, you’ll be on the court while your buddies are clipping Costco coupons because they played too much…..don’t sweat it.

  4. Joel says

    It’s a tough balance — there’s definitely a rush to playing a game you love. (I have the same feeling for ultimate Frisbee.) But tennis is a high-impact sport, and I can imagine that it takes a toll on your joints.

    Maybe your physical woes will change your style of play — I know a guy who played tennis into his 80s, and people swore he would beat you, no matter who you were. (Maybe they just weren’t very good, but hell, I never played him.) So maybe you should try to become a more cerebral player rather than a physical one — maybe that would lessen the impacts on your joints. Also, have you looked into acupuncture? I swear by it.
    .-= Joel´s last blog ..Should You Drive to Work, Even If It Costs You More? =-.

  5. says

    My guess is you’re extremely competitive by nature and just can’t say no to tennis invites. Have you tried racquetball? You might get the same rush you get with tennis with less running around (if you’re good). I’m a fairly bad racquetball player but console myself with the fact that at least I’m getting some exercise. I’ve played against guys who are so good at the sport they can almost stand in one spot and run me to death chasing the ball. Either that or shuffleboard :-)

    A physical therapist friend of mine highly recommends glucosamine for joint problems, and he let me in on a little secret that the recommended dosages on the bottle are about twice what they need to be (so you’ll buy more sooner). I’d try glucosamine if you’re not already using it and spend a little extra time warming up before you play.

    The thing I love doing that’s hard on my body is weightlifting. I like to do exercises that use your whole body so I can get a better workout in a shorter amount of time like clean and press, squats, and deadlifts, but my shoulder doesn’t always want to cooperate. I have to spend a good 5 minutes warming up my shoulders so I don’t tear something. I’m also feeling it more in my hips. Getting old sucks!
    .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..How to analyze stocks like a pro =-.

  6. Tracy says

    I absolutely believe that remaining active in spite of the potential for injury has benefits that far outweigh the risks. I have managed to remain active in the things I love to do by following the exercise routines taught by physical therapists while I was recovering from fun related injuries. I am in a profession that sometimes requires a lot of physical resources, so I have always tried to stay in shape to do my job as well as feed my good times. Skiing, mt biking, and riding horses are all big activities for me. I also like golf as long as we walk. The important thing is to exercise your core and get a trainer to teach you specific supporting exercises for tennis to help prevent injuries. Glucosamine is good, too, as is yoga to keep you limber enough to play hard.

  7. says

    I’ll try that gluco stuff. Thanks for the tip. GNC here I come!
    Are you saying you wouldn’t eat a nice chocolate cupcake if I sent you one? It’s just so hard to fire myself, b/c there isn’t a warden or prison guards telling me what to do, or not to do. The more I try and not play, the more I play. Maybe i’ll just play doubles then.

    Joel, you’re pretty spot on wrt to your assessment. I tried to be a “basher” when I was younger, hitting the ball as hard as I could. Now I try and slice and dice may way to victory. Because it hurts to bend the knees, it’s harder to get a heavy topspin on the backhand. Result? A slice to compensate.

    I’ve never tried acupuncture. Any idea if it’s covered by insurance? :)

  8. says

    @David @ MBA briefs
    You’re spot on regarding my competitive nature. I once screamed in elated victory after I beat my wife in Tetris!

    Getting old does SUCK!! I worked out for the FIRST TIME in 3 months, doing those butterfly presses for the pecs. Of course, I strain myself too hard and tear my left shoulder muscle! Sweet!

    I picked up racquetball b/c a couple clients play. I love the sport, especially during the winter. But of course, I have literally been whacked in the face and kidney by my opponents racquet. The worst is when you’re in the T zone waiting for the ball, and your opponent rips a forehand right into your left ass cheeck! I felt like I was in a paintball war!

    Will check out those Gluco pills today, and take half the does. Thanks for that double dose tidbit.

  9. says

    The funny thing is, I consider tennis a low impact sport. I’ve already kind of quit basketball and soccer. The best non contact sport may very well be POKER, but then i may lose all my money and that would suck.

    Have you ever read “Why Men Die Young”? Probably not, as you’re a woman :), but it says that sports related injuries are the #1 cause for why men die 7 years younger than women on average. Makes sense!

    Mixing up the activities/sports is a good call. Will do.

  10. Joel says

    The best thing about that Glucosamine: You can often find it on sale for really cheap. Bottles are surprisingly expensive, but my local Walgreens has had them for 50% off several times. I was actually pretty skeptical of this stuff, but I just discovered a bottle I had and my back — which I threw out a few months back picking up my daughter (yeeesh) — is suddenly a lot better.

    Re: acupuncture — I just checked, and it seems Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois offers a discount for acupuncture. I called to get further clarification, and of course, got an endless loop of voicemail links until the last one said no one was around and I should call back. Nice.
    .-= Joel´s last blog ..Should You Drive to Work, Even If It Costs You More? =-.

  11. Joel says

    Oh, and regarding low-impact sports, let me just ask this: Would you consider ultimate Frisbee high- or low-impact?

    Pause… wait for answer… Jeopardy music plays…

    Well, I admit: I don’t know the answer to that question. I will say, however, that I played for several years, and here are the injuries I’ve personally witnessed:

    -A severely sprained shoulder (mine)
    -A Joe Theismann-caliber compound fracture (not my leg, but I threw the disc that led to said horror)
    -A broken nose
    -A collapsed lung
    -A blown-out knee
    -I also ruptured my spleen chasing a Frisbee, but I wasn’t playing ultimate, so I guess it doesn’t count

    So the bottom line: Any sport can mess you up. But is it worth it? I think we’d probably both say yes.
    .-= Joel´s last blog ..Should You Drive to Work, Even If It Costs You More? =-.

  12. says

    Oh yikes!! I can’t believe you witnessed and experienced all that in frisbee! It’s a great game no doubt, and there’s also frisbee golf up here in Napa that is a step down in terms of impact from ultimate.

    That’s unbelievable Joel. Makes me wanna go play tackle football then given nobody is safe. Heck I even twisted my ankle walking the golf course once… and also slammed into a ditch with the electric buggy!

    Yes, long live sport. Without sport, life would be a much less interesting.

    I think those gluco pills may be flex spendable. I’ll check with the local drug store and see.

  13. says

    Two things:

    1. Don’t go for the cheap Glucosamine. The best is Glucosamine Hydrochloride, it is the closest to mimicking your own body’s producing same – avoid the sulfate, if no hydrochloride then the next best type is condroitin.

    2. I eat an awesome chocolate bar (lethal) – its actually an activity bar, has a lot of science behind it and patented in more places than you can call a match point. What it does is gives you sustained energy without the burn so the next day, no muscle pain and may even help the joints a tad. Nonetheless, it will help you whip the competition before they know what hit them.

    Keep up the tennis – give up the pain :-)

    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Clear The Clutter for Expansion =-.

  14. says

    OK, sounds good. Glucosamine Hydrochloride or bust! Went to play golf today instead, but will look for the product tomorrow at Walgreens/GNC etc. Is your chocolate bar called “lethal”, cuz there are tons out there! :)

    Shoot for your freshman year in college weight! High school weight, if you were normal weight is almost impossible to achieve! High school weight + 10lbs seems reasonable.

  15. Charlie says

    yikes. It’s awesome you have so much fun, just be careful you don’t over do it. You want to be able to play for many years to come after all! If it’s tough to limit yourself time-wise once you step on the court, try playing fewer days a week for to help your body heal between days. Good luck with your doctor checkups!

  16. Lovingkind says

    The glucosamine supplement that I take has both forms of glucosamine – glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine HCL. I have used Puritan’s glucosamine once because it was cheaper, but eventually I switched back to the one I am using now because I know it more.

    Glucosamine is made in the body and is involved in the formation of cartilage and other connective tissues. Cartilage is made up of water (70 – 80 %), collagen (10 – 15 %), and proteoglycans (10 – 15 %). Glucosamine stimulates the production of collagen and proteoglycans and helps absorbing more water. The end result is healthier cartilage.

    According to studies, glucosamine works for many people, but it does not necessarily work for all people. But it doesn’t hurt to try. It may help you ease the pains and recover faster. Good luck!

  17. says

    Readers …you know you shouldn’t be doing?
    Yeah, my ailments are mostly related to my back. At one time I could dunk the basketball and for a 5′ 10″ guy, that’s pretty good. So when I play with my son or other family members, I overdo it and jump a little to high and land a little to hard for my back.

    Why is it so hard … term damage the activity may cause?
    I’m pretty good at stopping when I believe logn term damage may be happening. Then again, I usually work out with weights, so it’s obvious when bad things are happening…

    Any advice on how to curb my tennis addiction and just say NO to the invites?
    This is a tough one. I guess I’d be taking a lot of rainchecks from people…. Maybe state that you have a small injury you’re overcoming, then suggest a raincheck…
    .-= Moneyreasons´s last blog ..Frugal Idea: How I Take Money From My Kids! =-.

  18. says

    Wow, 5’10” and you could DUNK? Impressive! I could only dunk a tennis ball, and that was back in HS.

    What if my opponent challenges my man-hood though? Lol. I’m going to stick a poster up on the wall of someone who uses a cane to walk. That is good incentive.

  19. Kosmo @ The Casual Observer says

    My dentist had wrist surgery this year. While it cut into his actual ability to work (i.e. earn money), he seemed a bit more concerned about its impact on his golf game. (He’s funny that way – and I mean that in a good way).

    The bad news is that his handicap went sky-high when he return to the links with a still-weak wrist.

    The good news is that he’s going to crush some people next spring, when his wrist is at full strength and his handicap is still artificially inflated by his injury.
    .-= Kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Mac vs. Windows =-.

  20. says

    Is it really tennis or is it really the relationships or is it really the competition. I’d be it is the competition. If so there are other sports that may not have such tragic impact on your old body. Swimming? Sailing?

    If it is the relationships, invite your buddies to other activities that you know you can still beat the crap out of them.

    If it is tennis then you better plan for a painful retirement! Sorry, the truth hurts. I played rugby and now pay for it every day.

    In retrospect, I should have stuck with swimming!
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..The Saving Game – Save to Splurge =-.

    • says

      Lean – It’s both tennis and the competition. If you try harder in tennis, you get better. In golf, if you try harder, it’s not very correlated.

      If you can, pls tell me more about the discomforts you are experiencing from your time on the pitch. I need to know it’s that bad.

  21. says

    Yep, I could barely dunk it when the wind had a bit of an updraft in it. I meant I’m talking barely. Nobody confuses me with Michael Jordon… And that was in high school for me too. I can barely jump and touch the rim now…

    Your bit about golf actually reminds me of a time when I was golfing with one of my wife’s friends. He threw his club up in a tree, and it stayed there… It’s amazing how that games makes us all so mad!
    .-= Moneyreasons´s last blog ..Frugal Idea: How I Take Money From My Kids! =-.

  22. Minority Fortune says

    Well, I’m no fitness guru, so all I can do is give you some pep talk! However, since tennis is your sport of choice, you also need look at preventive methods to lessen the damages. Strengthening your muscles and joints with supplements and nutrition is one course of action. Seeking the professional guidance of a pilates instructor or kinesiologist specialist is another course of action since they specialize in the proper movement of the body. You also might want to study the habits of tennis pros and how they minimize risks of injury. Other than that, best of luck with your tennis endeavors.

  23. Jonathan says

    Cause: Sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyle causes tight muscles, which puts more strain on knees.

    Solution: Exercise before work, during lunch, AND after work ideally. Keep legs moving as much as possible. I can’t stress this enough. Even when sitting at your desk, bounce your knees up and down.

    My story: After starting sedentary engineering work, I started getting tendinitis in my knees from playing basketball. I tried EVERYTHING: rest, icing, NSAIDs, stretches. NOTHING worked.

    Finally, I read a blog post about a guy who had a similar problem with running. He solved it by starting to run very slowly, every day, with very small running steps. Eventually after 2 or 3 weeks his pain was gone. I did the same thing. I played basketball in the morning, and at lunch when i could, just shooting around, working up a sweat. I would walk the stairs, take any excuse to walk and move my legs. After a few weeks, my legs had loosened up and my knees were feeling awesome! I now play basketball every single day and sometimes twice a day.

    It sounds like a pain to work out 2 or 3 times a day, but its a choice. Do you want to live a sedentary lifestyle and have limited mobility or put in the work to feel great?

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