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Old 25-02-2015, 14:29   #1
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Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

We've beaten surgery, therapy, and nutrition to death. A good thread, but are there mechanical things we can do? My wife had a knee replace and has no balance, and my second knee op (MAJOR 30 years ago, and minor this time) make me think about ergonomics.

These changes have greatly contributed to being able to share sailing with my wife, and that is priceless.

Getting on and off the boat.
  • A small tackle that pulls it tight to the dock during boarding.
  • Properly braced stanchions. Not just a single pole.
  • Sugar scoops make the level match no matter what the tide.
  • Extended swim platforms. Much easier to get in and out of the dingy, since you can hold on to the davits. She could not board the dingy without help before this addition; now she can take kids out.


In the cockpit and on deck.

  • Steps and braces near the helm seat.
  • Steps to make the step-up to the benches less. Notice how many of the step-ups are based on 13-25 inches instead of the standard 7.5 inches at home?).
  • More non-skid. Weak knees can't catch slips.
  • Wrap some of the hand rails with line for more grip.
In the cabin.
  • A custom sea chest makes the step up to the berth more manageable.
  • Webbing loops hang near stairs to provide a boost (railing is only on one side).
  • Replace companion ladders with one with the steps closer together.


Practices.
  • Learn to dock such that no one needs to leap about. Fenders and rub rails should allow you to gently lean her on the pilings. And remember that bones cost more than gel coat dings, which in the scheme of life, count for zero.
  • If docking is going to tough, consider anchoring-out. It can be much less demanding, particularly if single handed or with disabled crew.
  • Less running around. More planning.
  • Smarter sail handling. Plan for lees, harbors, or good procedure. Or reef from the start if you are hurting. Or motor. I'm not implying you can't sail when it's snorting, just plan to reduce the dancing on deck.
So what modifications can you suggest? What have you tried?
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Old 25-02-2015, 14:37   #2
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

You've covered quite a few, here's my adds:
-wife is helm, I'm the deck squirrel/sail handler. (I'm 10 years younger and my knees are ok.)
-bought a boat with level decks, or as level as possible (not lots of little steps, the Leopards I've been on have lots of little levels). On deck, one level. Cockpit all one level. Salon all one level. In hulls, all one level.
-bought a FenderStep which doubles as ladder
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Old 25-02-2015, 14:50   #3
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

I found that taking a cushion with me in the dinghy really saves my knees when getting out of it at the dock.

I'm been considering getting a nice thick rubber mat like what is used at industrial work site to put in the cockpit behind the helm for when I have to stand there a long to steer.

Stop touring lighthouses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The view is getting to not be worth the days of knee pain later.
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Old 25-02-2015, 20:18   #4
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

Balance. As we get older our brain depends more and more on eyesight for balance. Practice standing on one leg with eyes closed. This is a very important exercise. Of course at first you need to stand someplace safe, like in front of a kitchen cabinet. Walk while consciously slowly moving the back leg forward and over time graduate to raising one leg so upper leg is parallel to the ground take a step do same with other leg. Take it slow but practice balance every day until you can stand for one minute on each leg. Standing on one leg can be hard on the knee so practice along with leg strengthening exercises and don't try to rush your progress.

There are also more advanced balance exercises you can do, like balance board and Bosu Ball. My therapist had me stepping on and off the Bosu Ball front, side and back.
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Old 25-02-2015, 21:05   #5
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

Exercise you can do in boat:

Stand on bottom step of companionway ladder. Slowly (take about 10 seconds) lower your body till the other heel touches the cabin sole, hold onto the rail so as not to lose your balance, then slowly, using your quadriceps, raise yourself till the ball of the foot is over the step. Change feet and do it again. As often as you think of it, but at least 5 times twice a day to start, then increase to 7, and work your way up to 10 twice a day. If it's too easy, double it.

Also, one legged toe raises are good. Somewhere you can hang on or maintain balance, just up and down onto the ball of the foot and back down, other leg bent up off the floor. Start with 15. This addresses both balance and calf and ankle strength, remember, legs working properly use all the muscles together, but you are singleing out some important ones for strengthening.

Good luck with it everyone.

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Old 26-02-2015, 01:47   #6
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

Rather than a block & tackle, I'll often just string and extra dockline with a lot of slack (enough that it never goes tight but also won't catch on something). Take a turn around a dock cleat and if you are patient, you can almost always pull the boat up tight and hold it there without much effort.

A catamaran is a good first step as it avoids leaning and no ladder to get in and out off the cabin. Eventually we may wind up on a single level houseboat but hopefull a few decades away.

As others have said, use it or lose it. Don't make life so easy that you never use those knees. When my Mom got her electric scooter it was a mixed blessing. She got out more but you could see her ability to get around without it drop quickly.
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Old 26-02-2015, 04:09   #7
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

Wow, you've thought of a lot of things....
My dearly beloved has two artificial knees, she's had osteoarthritis since she was in her 30s and everything is now going west.
I back Elyse into the dock so its easier to get on and off....and I use the slack stern line technique to bring the stern up to the dock so it's not such a big gap.
We have a hydraulic passarelle also which works really well on high docks - just walk on walk off.
Getting in and out of the cockpit is a bit of a challenge, but the lines on the winches on the mizzen mast alleviate the situation.

Once on board and inside the boat it's no issue - we don't have high bunks.

Good to see people thinking about this stuff.
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Old 26-02-2015, 05:20   #8
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

Not directly knee related, but I've found when your knees hurt, you must concentrate on walking heel to toe. That apparently makes the calf muscles pump blood into and out of the calf. If your knee is hurting and you favor it, that is why your calf will hurt like hell soon if you don't make yourself walk heel to toe like normal
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Old 26-02-2015, 07:45   #9
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

One of the little things I found on my last trip was the simple way i moved about
I found that by doing things like changing legs, starting with left instead of right for example meant that three steps later I was on the stronger side when
I had to pivot or move vertically
A simple little change made a big difference.
Ditto on the bosu ball. A great balance exercise is to stand on it about eight feet from a wall, throw the ball against the floor so that it bounces against the wall and then back to you.
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Old 26-02-2015, 08:10   #10
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

that reminds me of what the PT told my wife: "up with the good, down with the bad." (lead with good knee climbing up, lead with bad knee climbing down) with respect to good knee/bad knee and climbing

just also was reminded that the takacat dink is very easy for her (and me) to get in and out of, having effectively a loading ramp forward
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Old 26-02-2015, 16:15   #11
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

for my bad knees i put work out mats all the way through my boat and even in my berths and the cockpit ,, i can tell the difference the first day ,,
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Old 26-02-2015, 17:05   #12
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

We have two 6" thick foam cushions, and I use one of them between my knees and what I have to kneel on. Doing that makes a huge difference for me.

Ann
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Old 26-02-2015, 18:24   #13
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

The fenderstep has helped me a lot. As a seasonal sailor, I find my knees get stronger as the summer goes on. The boat is good for strengthening my muscles. I am forced to use them, but there is almost always a handhold to help spread the load.


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Old 26-02-2015, 18:49   #14
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

Pads for kneeling are good; I keep a thin one under the cockpit cushions (engine access is from this area on my boat).

Also volley ball knee pads for ANY extended task on the knees. Just keep them on while you are on the hard!

Gloves. I feel they reduce any hesitation to grab for support.
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Old 26-02-2015, 18:51   #15
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Re: Bad Knees--Boat or practice mods that help?

This has been a very informative thread. As a typical American, I never really took care of my body. But now that I have gone into the "Golden Years" of life, seeking the finer things, i.e. sailing for one, I am now paying the consequences of my choices. Having just acquired my first sailboat, the first hard reality that hit me was that my knees are not really prepared for this new lifestyle. It is an issue that I look forward to addressing, personally (physically) and mechanically.
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