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At the age of 32, I am officially Too Old For This Shit — and by "this shit," I mean hangovers, uncomfortable shoes, going "out," and crawling around on my hands and knees in the service of a DIY project.
But why do you spend so much time on your knees, Rachel? you ask, preparing to make a predictable and unwelcome blow-job joke. (Yeah, let's just get that out of the way now.) And the answer is that it is a necessary position for all sorts of activities that don't (typically) involve peens — including, but not limited to, assembling furniture, painting, cleaning, organizing, praying, gardening, and making cool stuff.
The problem with kneeling? That shit hurts. Knees are bony, relatively fat-less things, and they are not really designed to directly bear a body's weight for hours at a time. In the past, I've folded up an old towel under my knees to soften the blow, which sooooort of helps...ish. But as I recently prepared to start a massive three-day DIY project that would require a ton of kneeling, and it occurred to me that my body was deeply not ready, I had a lightbulb moment: I should get myself some kneepads.
I was envisioning something like the cushy delights I wore as a member of my eighth-grade volleyball team, and went looking for a version that was made with Velcro so I could more easily slip them on and off over my shoes/leggings as I worked. My search eventually led me to the "professional"-kneepads corner of Amazon, which is populated by very aggressive-looking ones that are made not for teenage girls or crafty women, but for grown-ass construction workers and contractors who basically kneel for a living. ("THUNDERBOLT," one set blared.)
Based on the positive reviews and their simple black design, I was leaning toward the NoCry Professional Knee Pads with Heavy Duty Foam Padding and Comfortable Gel Cushion, for $24.99.
The product photos, though — which feature what appear to be all men — had me worried that they wouldn't fit. I began reading the reviews hoping that at least one woman would have weighed in, and I came across a user-uploaded photo of a woman wearing them to garden. Sold! I gave Amazon $25, and two days later, my kneepads arrived.
These kneepads are, I'm sorry to tell you, not particularly cute; they are very bulky and resemble turtle shells. And they look super hardcore — my overall look was "Iron Man decides to do a Pinterest DIY project." But! They are exquisitely cushioned, making it comfortable not just to kneel, but to stay on your knees as you move from, say, your project to the paint tray to your tool box. They felt exactly like I imagine a hug from Detective Elliott Stabler feels, and after being cradled in their protective, confident, strong but gentle hold, my body rejected doing any sort of kneeling work without them. In fact, the few times I dropped to the floor and started working without putting them on first, I was startled by how hard the ground felt below my knees. Like, has the ground always been this hard?! And if so, how had I worked like this??? ("Shhh...you're safe now," my kneepads murmured.)
As for the fit, the straps are adjustable, and I was able to secure them tightly to my legs without any issues. And while they weren't quite as easy to walk in as volleyball kneepads would have been, the slightly awkward gait that I took on when wearing them was ultimately a non-issue. (It was also easy to just pop them off when I needed to.) And because they are so thick, they had the added bonus of keeping my bent legs nearly an inch above the ground — which meant that by the end of a project that normally would have left my bottom half covered in filth, my pants were relatively clean, with the bulk of the paint drops on the kneepads instead of my leggings. My only complaint is that the entire surface area of each kneepad was bigger than it needed to be. But even though they seem pretty clearly designed for men's bodies, they delivered on their promise: There was no crying.
I'd recommend these kneepads to anyone who has ever shaken a fist angrily at the sky while cleaning floors, trimming baseboards, assembling furniture, painting, gardening, or just putting together an artificial Christmas tree. They'd also make an excellent gift for anyone who does one of the above things regularly, or for new homeowners who have — whether they realize it or not — many weekends spent crawling around on the floor ahead of them. These kneepads may not be glamorous, but they are a godsend.