Needy Knees

I feel like every few weeks I take to my bloggy soapbox to complain about injuries. Torn ankle tendons, shin splints, toenails of doom, IT band woes, back injuries of yore… I’m starting to feel like it’s getting a little old, and I apologize if you’re feeling the same way.

(source)

Maybe not entirely true, but it feels this way sometimes! (source)

Since this blog serves as a chronicle of my running adventures, I guess the unfortunate and/or boring should still be included, so I’m going to add a new injury to my list: dodgy knees.

I feel like knees are the cliched runner’s injury… you know, the one people always warn you about when they find out you’re a runner (especially a new one): “Oh, you shouldn’t run. Terrible on your knees!!” and so on. I’ve considered myself lucky during my running “career” since my knees never really bothered me, apart from the stabbing pain I’d get when I’d try to run fast in the cold without warming up. (That, however, always happened before I consciously became a runner… learning proper form and how to pace myself has made that a non-issue.)

Well, looks like my luck has run out. My knees started getting a bit dodgy after my 8.5-mile long run two Sundays ago, when the outside of my right knee (a reprise of ITB woes?) started acting up during my last mile. Playing soccer on a hard, knobbly pitch a few days later didn’t seem to help, but luckily the pain both times was fleeting and was gone by morning.

These are my 3 favorite results from the first page of images when I googled "dodgy iknees." Long live Ledley King! (sources here, here, and here)

These are my 3 favorite results from the first page of images I got when I googled “dodgy knees.” Ledley I get, as his knees were made out of chalk and held together with prayers, but That Guy from One Direction and a bizarre pair of shoes? I’m so intrigued. (sources here, here, and here)

Then this past weekend’s 10-miler happened. My knees started hurting right away, then felt better as the miles ticked by, but got painful again during my walk home from the pond. They continued to hurt Monday… and Tuesday… and Wednesday. I brought an ice pack to work, tried to avoid kneeling because I found out the hard way that kneeling DOES NOT HELP, and began fretting about the ever-approaching date of my half marathon. What was wrong with me? Would I be able to run??

I started googling runner’s knee, and read in horror about people taking weeks off to let their knees heal. I don’t have weeks to spare right now, people! I had visions of DNSing my first ever 13.1 and was pretty seriously bummed.

Cue a well-timed appointment with my doctor for something completely unrelated. When she uttered the magic words “Everything else okay?” at the end of my appointment, I launched into my word-vomit extravaganza about my dodgy knees. She nodded calmly, asked me to roll up my trouser leg, and grabbed the tendon under my kneecap and wiggled it back and forth. To my glee, she announced that my knees weren’t swollen and there wasn’t too much “lateral movement” which would indicate a more serious injury, and said I had some mild tendonitis but should still be able to run my half a week from Sunday. Huzzah! She suggested a simple knee brace if I felt I needed it and sent me merrily on my way.

Because I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about the things that afflict me, of course I had to google “knee tendonitis” after my appointment. I’m still confused as to how it’s different from runner’s knee, or jumper’s knee – are they all the same thing?! – but I have a little better idea about what might be causing my dodgy knees and what I can do to help them out and make them a bit less needy.

According to a Running Times article, tendonitis in the knee can be caused by all sorts of things, several of which I seem to have fallen victim to: over-pronation, knock-knees, and *ahem* having “recently increased the distance or intensity of your training.” All of these things are preventable. I have orthotics to counteract my over-pronation, but I don’t wear them because they pushed my feet forward in my shoes and hurt my already bruised toes. Years ago a physical therapist told me that if I can teach myself to push my knees outward when I stand/walk (because my knees point in a little), then that would not only help my knees but would also naturally lift my arches/fix my over-pronation. That made me walk funny so I didn’t try for very long. And *hangs my head in shame* yes, I knowingly increased my mileage too fast. I know I did. This tendonitis is my punishment.

Damn you, tendon. You are harsh but fair. (source)

Damn you, tendon. You are harsh but fair. (source)

Despite the stars aligning to curse my knees (or, you know, my bringing all this upon myself), I am working to make this situation better. I’ve been resting my knees – I skipped speed workouts and soccer this week (and kickball was canceled due to rain) – keeping up with icing, and bought myself two braces – a regular compression-sleeve-style one and a patella band – because I couldn’t decide which one would be better. (Luckily, thanks to Columbus Day sales and my loyalty rewards, I basically got both for the price of one – score!) The pain has already subsided a little today, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be right(ish) as rain for my race next week.

Have you had issues with your knees? How did you handle them?

Anyone else feel like his/her body parts conspire to ruin his/her good time, or is that just me?

Just for grins, here are two other articles from Runner’s World / Running Times about knees, in case anyone is like me and wants to learn more:

Taking It On The Kneecap

Patellar Pain Exercise Program

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6 thoughts on “Needy Knees

  1. Boo, what’s up with your body constantly trying to derail your running?!

    Anyway, I’ve never had knee issues so I can’t really help you out, but it sounds like you’ve got information and a plan, so good on you!

    • My grandma keeps saying it’s God’s way of telling me to stop running (never!!) Haha but seriously, I think my body and I need to have a little chat. Hopefully my info and plan help!

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