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I had knee surgery last year for a torn meniscus and some loose body cleanup (from a femur fracture when I was younger). The other advice here is great, I just wanted to post the compression ice pack that my surgeon recommended. It's amazing for keeping swelling down! After my surgery, I used this religiously and had almost zero swelling. I still use it now, after particularly knee-heavy workouts (though I mostly use the bike).
the swelling is definitely normal i remember thinking that the giant lump on the medial side of my knee was just dressing, and when i took it off it was just swelling. I also had my ACL done using a patellar tendon graft but 6 weeks later and the swelling 95% gone. Just do your ankle pumps and keep it elevated above the heart at all times and ice every hour, youll be ogod. I didn't have a brace but i did wear an ace bandage to sleep (not too tight, tighter during the day) and it definitely helped.
this cuff has been super helpful
I just tore my ACL and MCL and ice packs are already getting annoying so I might switch to something like that. It's $70 on amazon but I also found this for half the price so I'll probably give it a try instead.
My knees went when I was in my 30's, so I can relate. When I turned 40 I decided to give it another go. I focused on balancing out the major muscle groups in my legs with focused training. I used generic TRX straps which hang from a doorway for support and balance to better isolate the glutes (I had tremendously weak glutes) during reverse, standing, and curtsy lunges, as well as during squats. I used mini bands as well to build out the glutes and target the hamstrings. I did this 3x a week for a 1.5 months until my glutes were noticibly larger and firm.
Then, I got on the bike. I adjusted my seat height to make sure the maximum compression of my knee was greater than 75° at the top of my stroke. If the angle is less than 75°, you are putting tremendous pressure across the knee as you attempt initiate the downward half of your pedal stroke. I aligned the fore/aft position of the seat to ensure that the patella of my knee did not pass more than 5° in front of the pedal stem during a pedaling motion. I used video from my phone and this free software (you only get two free uploads so make sure your video is less than 15s and is cropped to you pedaling).
I ended up just paying the 5$ monthly because I feel like there are still improvements to make.
Finally, after all this training and adjustments, I found that I was more able to create a complete pedal stroke and enjoy long rides without significant pain.
I also drink tart cherry juice after every ride/workout with my recovery shake to limit joint inflammation. An ice pack or a compression sleeve post ride on a sore knee can help. I bought one on Amazon that compresses a form fitted cool pack around the knee and applies pressure with a small hand pump. It keeps my knee from swelling up post exercise. I haven't needed this since I got my bike setup dialed in but it definitely worked to reduce swelling.
Not sure if any of these will help you but I understand how much exercise can help with COVID isolation and the related mental health challenges, so I hope there is something in there for you.