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Ep. 56 – Laurie Kertz Kelly – Knee Health & Cadence

In episode 56, Mich Bondesio chats with Laurie Kertz Kelly about how caring for our knees impacts our ability to create cadence, and how knee health can help us maintain health, wellbeing and momentum in all parts of our life.

Links referenced in the show (see transcript below).

Transcript – Episode 56

Published:12 February 2024

Mich Bondesio: 

This is episode 56, the second of season nine. Today I’m interviewing Laurie Kertz Kelly about the importance of knee health in helping us to maintain momentum in our lives.

But first a few things from me. And the first episode of the season, I shared more about my business plans for the year. Including how I’ll be spending less time on social media. And more time simplifying my business.

I’ve had a lot of replies from people to my newsletter, where I shared this link and my plans. And I’m kind of reassured and interested to see that a lot of people are in agreement with me that less social media seems to be what people want more of this year. I also shared on the episode more about the Cadence Coaching Programme, the first cohort for which goes live in April.

I’ll be sharing the official launch link at the end of February this year, but if you want to find out more about it in the meantime, head to creatingcadence.co/cadence-coaching. I’ll share the link for that in the show notes.

So now onto our interview, the first for the season.

Laurie Kertz Kelly provides solutions for people who’ve been told that their knee pain is wear and tear or age related. As a physio or physical therapist for over 20 years, she specialises in helping active adults build healthier knees by strengthening their knee joints as well as their muscles.

She’s been featured in the Washington Post and is the co-founder of the “10 minute Healthy Knee Starter Kit” and “Better Knees for Life”, an online fitness programme and private community with step-by-step recommendations to eliminate annoying knee pain rather than working around it. You can get started on improving your knees by checking out her zero cost guide, which is www.enjoystrongerknees.com.

This was a lovely, gentle, and helpful conversation. And even if you don’t suffer from knee pain, it turns out it’s never too early or too late to start caring for your knees.

  • Laurie makes some important points about the role that our knees play in our overall wellbeing, not just physical fitness.
  • Laurie also shares how she creates more flexibility in the way that she works and the steps she takes to support her own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
  • She also provides an example of how she was able to support herself during a particularly challenging time caring for a sick parent.

You may find inspiration in unexpected places in this conversation. So if you’re ready, let’s dive in.

So welcome, Laurie. It’s lovely to have you on the show.

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:03:13] Thanks, Mish. I’m excited to be here.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:03:16] Great. So, a bit of background before we jump into the questions.

We are both part of an online wellness community managed by Trudi Roth, who has also been on the show in the last season. And because I have creaky knees, I’ve been following your work since then. Alongside your physio health coaching work, you have an excellent YouTube channel and lots of free resources to help people get started.

So I’m really pleased to have you on the show because I’m keen to explore how creating cadence in our lives can connect with something as specific as knee health. But before we get there, I want to find out a bit more about you. Tell us about your current work and life context, and how is it impacting on your wellbeing, creativity, and productivity. Where are you at in your life at the moment?

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:03:59] Sure. Well, I’ve been a physio or a physical therapist since 2001. I was, at one point the clinical director of a very busy, thriving orthopedic practice. And at that time I, was, you know, supervising staff and also seeing multiple patients simultaneously in a large gym-type space.

And I frequently found myself listening to a client, but also my head being on swivel, kind of looking around the room, trying to make sure everyone else was safely doing their exercises as well. And, and I, I hated that. I felt really rude. I would constantly be saying, I’m still listening to you, you know, but it just felt like I wasn’t able to be really present and really understand what was going on with that particular person.

It was also really draining for me. It just took a lot of energy to be in that situation. And so about nine years ago, I left healthcare and am now more in a wellness sphere.

I’ve specialised in helping people with their knees building stronger, healthier knees. Frequently, you know, that stiff achy, sore knee. Some people have the, the diagnosis of arthritis and I help most people via online video. And so that means I work from home or I work from wherever I’m at, that particular day or week

Mich Bondesio:

[00:05:22] That’s fantastic.

So you have lots more freedom of choice in how you work and, and where you work.

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:05:28] Exactly. And I’m really able to be present You know, I only have one person that’s in front of me and that I’m helping.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:05:35] Oh, that’s fantastic.

So what made you decide to focus specifically on knee health?

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:05:41] You know, I found there was really a gap in how people were being helped. I think knee pain is common. It affects millions of people worldwide and frequently I think people are kind of given. Bandaid approaches.

You know, here take this medicine. Or, put on this topical cream, that type of thing. And other times they’re offered traditional physio, which, you know, it doesn’t really matter what country you’re in, that typically involves strengthening muscles. And oftentimes that will put more pressure on their knees. And if their knees aren’t strong inside, then it, you know, deep inside the joint, then it actually may worsen their symptoms.

And so then they’re kind of in this situation where they feel like, oh, maybe my knees can’t get better. Maybe I just have to live with this, or I just have to push through it. Then maybe even told well, and you know, when pain gets too bad, we can do a knee replacement and, there are other options.

So I, I like to be able to kind of share those opportunities with people so that they feel they have some hope.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:06:52] Well, I certainly feel hopeful after seeing some of the resources and employing the exercises that you recommend. You know, I’m a Gen Xer and I was diagnosed with osteo-arthritis in my knees five years ago. And in my youth, like lots of people, I did all the things I cycled and I snowboarded and I backpacked and I hiked mountains and all the things that put strain on your knees.

But I was doing so without knowing that I should have been doing things back then possibly to support my knees better. So that I wouldn’t be experiencing the discomfort I am now. But like you say, when I was diagnosed, the doctor was like, well, at some point in the future you’ll need a knee replacement.

And I was like, oh, I feel like I’m too young to be considering something like that. And then, realizing from looking at your content and following some of the exercises you recommend how, actually, there are other ways that we could be working, and it isn’t just about the muscles, it’s about the whole body framework.

And we’ll get into that a little bit more further along in this interview. But for now, what I’d like to know is with regards to your own context and, you’ve changed your life so that you have more freedom in terms of how you work, and so on.

But how do you support yourself so that you can show up as your best for your clients? You have a strong health focus in the work that you do, so it’s an important part of how you show up.

How do you support yourself personally? Do you have specific routines and habits and activities that you engage in?

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:08:08] I do I have this, I guess I’d first say that I have this. kind of ebb and flow with routines. I like routines. I find they’re supportive, but I also like the flexibility in keeping my options open.

So I kind of allow them to change sometimes by the season, you know, if it’s, if it’s cold or rainy outside, then I may forego the 20 minute early morning walk and I may stretch or, you know, I have an indoor rowing machine, and do something like that.

Nature is huge for me and I find that I need to get a dose of nature every single day. It may not be first thing in the morning. Sometimes it is this morning it was, but at some point it, during the day, it’s really critical for me to be in nature.

And then that’s oftentimes walking. Sometimes there’s a cycling trail not far from that’s paved. that I enjoy as well. You know, this, this past weekend, I was able to take kind of a whole weekend away, and it was primarily outdoors. So there was hiking and standup paddling

[00:09:16] Pickleball and you know, it was great. But even little doses of nature, I feel are huge.

one of my, one of my routines or rituals is a, is a pretty big breakfast that includes Brussels sprouts, which everyone loves, but that’s, you know,my breakfast is kind of unchangeable five or six days a week. I have the same thing.

And because I love it so much, it’s one way for me to kind of cut down on some of the decisions I have to make each day. I find that I have to make too many decisions. I get tired. The decision fatigue is really real.

So, those are, those are two ways. I pretty much silence notifications. Or when I download a new app, I don’t allow notifications so that helps decrease the distraction a little bit. I find, I have to still kind of be careful. I’ll see an email come in and I’m like, okay, you gotta finish this task before you, before you get back to that one.

And, and sleep. Sleep is really important for me. I’m not great about always going to bed and getting up at the same time, but I do try and stick to not eating three hours before I go to bed, not drinking two hours before I go to bed and kind of, I’m off screens an hour before I go to bed at night.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:10:29] I agree with you in terms of having those kinds of non-negotiables because they really do make a difference in terms of the quality of your sleep. I’m the same. And as I said, I’m kind of at that stage in my life where my hormones are changing, and so sleep is becoming a problem and I’m having to adjust. when I might start my day because of how my sleep might be. And so constantly thinking about what kind of habits or routines do I need to put in place to continue to support that sleep?

So I loved what you’ve shared in terms of, you are focusing on very intentional practices in terms of your health and fitness, but also in terms of how you’re working, the impact that has on your cognitive load.

Absolutely. Healthy breakfast, you know, you’re getting the goodness that you need to set you up for the day as well. I love those examples. Thank you.

[00:11:15] In a broader context, I know that you are familiar with this concept of cadence because I have done some talks in the wellness community that we’re a part of, but it’s.

Cadence is also it’s personal to each of us. It means how we employ it or engage the principles of it can differ. So I’m keen to hear in a broader context what it might mean for you.

How and why does that idea of creating cadence resonate with you?

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:11:39] Creating cadence really feels like a dynamic process for me, and that gives me a lot of freedom.

So it, it changes with the seasons the seasons in my life. And about a year ago, my, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he lives, several hundred kilometers away, and. I needed to be able to be present there with him. Sometimes in person, sometimes on phone calls, speaker phone, you know, with certain physicians and so forth. And I was able to do that, and that meant that my routines and rituals changed and the cadence in my life at that point changed.

And that was, that was really important to me. It supported me emotionally, and I was, you know, still able to serve my clients and so on. So it, it was really just, you know, I think being aware that creating cadence looks different at different times is a really important piece of it.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:12:39] I agree, and I’m sorry to hear about your father’s illness. And I think that you’ve explained that really well in terms of the connection or the idea of it being seasonal. And that isn’t just in terms of the time of year, but also in terms of the requirements of our life at different stages of our life.

Whether we’re caring for children or caring for elderly parents and so forth, and those responsibilities outside of work, that impact on work and where we have more control over how we work, that enables us to develop these elastic styles of working where we can help that fit around the different demands of our life.

So that’s a, great example. Thank you for sharing that. If you think about this concept of cadence, you know, rhythm, pace flow, building momentum, let’s consider how it might apply in your actual business and the work that you do to support your clients.

Why is it important for our ability to maintain momentum as we move through life to have good, strong knees. And how do you help your clients perform in the rest of their life by supporting their knees?

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:13:42] Right, right. Well, it’s critical. It definitely is.

When I’m meeting with a client initially, it is really important for me to understand their story, you know, what’s kind of unfolded, what’s happened to them and their knees over the years or months leading up to them contacting me.

I think often times there’s a curiosity that’s missing in the healthcare systems. So they’re just kind of given a label like arthritis or osteoarthritis, right? Instead of really understanding, okay, what things, is it sitting for long periods of time or is it, you know, going up and down stairs that kind of causes your knees to get more stiff, for example.

That’s important. But I also really listen for, what stage are they at in their lives? Are they working from home or are they going into an office? Do they have demands that are primarily sitting or are they more active? And sometimes it’s a combination. I look at and listen for things like, do they have stairs in their home.

Or, you know, are they gardening, you know, and they need to deep squat all the time? And, and then what are their responsibilities? And so the recommendations that I will provide take into consideration, how their knees are feeling and, the assessment that I do with them for their knees.

But it also takes into consideration very much like how are they going to weave this into their day. And, if I don’t take the second part into consideration, all the recommendations are more or less worthless because it doesn’t allow them to implement them.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:15:22] Absolutely. That’s something I talk about in my book, the Cadence Effect, and also this concept around intentional productivity, but if you apply it in the health environment as well is, we are not gonna stick with anything if it’s not small and manageable and if it doesn’t fit into our life in a way that’s gonna support us.

So I love that you take that into consideration. And very often when we’re thinking about something like creaky knees, as in my case, I gave examples of all the physical exercise that I’ve done in the past that’s contributed to the pressure on my knees, but I do sit at a desk for long periods of time. I do have to climb stairs.

All of those things also impact on me because I’m possibly not carrying myself in the way that I should, you know? So there’s a lot to learn and so I think that’s great that you are considering the aspects outside of the one area that might be why they’re experiencing pain in this moment. I think that’s a good lesson for us.

I suppose we don’t realise this until we start experiencing pain in a particular area and, and using knees as an example. They’re an integral part of our physical framework, and when they don’t work properly, that causes pain, it limits our mobility, and then that starts impacting on the other elements of our life as well.

And all of a sudden you feel like your freedom is being curtailed.

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:16:40] Yes. And, it affects not just an individual on their own, but also how they interact with other people and their relationships. So, you know, oftentimes going for walks with friends or meeting up to play pickleball or to go fishing or, or garden, you know, is oftentimes a group activity or to take care of young kids.

I had a friend recently said, I have a new goal. I need to be able to sprint my, my granddaughter’s now two, and she’s getting away from me. So yes, it affects us all, all around, physically, emotionally, mentally.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:17:17] Yeah. Yeah. that’s a good point. So any words of advice or key takeaways that you wanna share with listeners based on your experience of life and work, first of all, but also in terms of knee health specifically.

You know, what are some small things that people can do to start taking better care of their knees, based on your experience?

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:17:35] One thing that someone can do who’s having knee deep pain or just some stiffness or achiness is gently tighten the muscles on the front of their thighs, and oftentimes that’s most comfortable, when their legs are straight. So they may be sitting on a couch, they may put a small pillow underneath their knees.

By engaging those muscles, and it doesn’t have to be a really tight contraction. It could be gentle because you don’t wanna aggravate your knees if a tight or strong contraction bothers your knees.

But by turning on those muscles on the front of their thighs and holding for about five seconds and then relaxing, possibly repeating that five to 10 times in a row. And it could be done in bed, lying down, it could be down on the couch.

If you’re sitting on the ground outside, you know, all these places, will accommodate that, that is going to thicken fluid inside the knees and thick, healthy joint fluid Inside the knees is gonna be the consistency of egg whites and it provides an extra level of protection and shock absorption for your knees.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:18:43] That’s excellent. I’m definitely gonna give that a go and we will share in the show notes, links to your YouTube channel ’cause you’ve got great demonstration videos along those lines. Thanks Laurie.

So any personal words of advice based on your life experience so far that you think are worth people thinking about?

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:19:00] Sure. You know, for me, I think I can get tempted into optimizing everything all at once. So I wanna have this perfect morning routine when I wake up and a perfect workday startup and a good shutdown routine when I’m finishing my workday and it can kind of get overwhelming. And, I find that if I start small, which you talk about in your book you know that it can lead to really powerful results.

So when I say start small, I think, okay, what can I do that takes less than two minutes? And if it takes less than two minutes and I have a reminder to do it, it’ll probably get done. And I think that’s the case for people improving their knees, like the exercise I talked about. You can do that 10 times within two minutes.

I can do a breathing exercise, you know, something as simple as just focusing on my breath for two minutes to kind of calm down my nervous system, you know, make sure my exhales are twice as long as my inhales. Or maybe it’s, I walk down the hall for two minutes, or I go to a window and look at nature from the window.

And, I think those two minute little breaks you know, seem insignificant at the time, but can be incredibly powerful.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:20:12] Absolutely. I agree with you a hundred percent.

The micro moments build upon each other and they have this massive compounding effect. But sometimes we’ve dismiss them ’cause we think it’s too simple, you know?

So thank you very much for offering that advice. And thanks so much for being on the show. Let us know where the best place is for people to find you online, Laurie.

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:20:33] Sure. I think the best way to connect with me would be accessing my Zero Cost Guide to start improving your needs and that will be at www.enjoystrongerknees.com.

Mich Bondesio:  

[00:20:46] That’s a great name. Thanks so much Laurie. Thank you for your time.

Laurie Kertz Kelly:

[00:20:50] Absolutely Mich. Thanks for spreading the word. This is a wonderful message.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:20:54] Thank you.

Well, what an enlightening episode. I hope you learned a lot from this in terms of how important something like knee health is for not just your health and wellbeing, but for everything else that you do in your life, too.

Laurie has some exceptional resources on her website, which I will share in the show notes. And she’s just generally a really lovely and approachable person too. I highly recommend that you follow her on LinkedIn. And on YouTube, wherever you prefer to get your content from.

There are two key takeaways for me from this episode. And the first is Laurie’s mention of taking into account the bigger picture of our lives and how this may impact on both the cause of our knee pain. And also how it can affect the way we manage, treat and recover from that knee pain.

Linked to this is the second point, that something like a knee injury or arthritis isn’t just about the isolated or localised pain we’re experiencing on our body. It also has knock-on effects in terms of our ability to engage with the world around us. If we can’t show up and be active and social in other parts of our life, this can contribute to issues such as loneliness, anxiety, and depression, which all also contribute to burnout.

And this idea can be applied to everything that we do. We’re part of a larger ecosystem. Everything we engage with affects us and we affect the different parts of our environmental structure too. So how can we ensure that we’re operating in a way that enables us to put our best foot forward, to keep moving forwards in a healthy way for longer? Well one way is to take care of our knees. And according to Laurie, it’s never too late to start.

A few things before you go.

You can find out more about my new book at TheCadenceEffect.com. And helpful reviews are always welcome to help the book get found by those who need it.

A reminder too that if you want to be the first to hear about the special offers relating to the new coaching cohort that’s coming in early 2024, please sign up for the cadence newsletter at CreatingCadence.co/subscribe.

If you like the show, please share the love by rating it on Apple, Spotify, Google Play, or Amazon Music. You can also support “CreatingCadence”, all one word, on Patreon, or BuyMeACoffee

Thanks again for listening. Until next time, keep moving forwards with courage, curiosity, and cadence.

Bye for now.

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