My left knee is pretty messed up. The day of our 12 mile run, it was achey, but not unbearable. The next day however (even with appropriate stretching, nutrition, and manual removal of lactic acid buildup), my knee was more than just achey. It hurt to bend it, particularly when lifting as well (think stairs and walking).
The run was on Sunday, and it’s Wednesday now, and I’m still hurting. Not as much, but it’s still there. I bought a knee brace and have been wearing it. It helps. I also have a hot gel pack to let the pain soak away with. I had to miss a training run this morning, which sucks…and i’m worried that I’ll miss the 14 miler this weekend. It isn’t a huge deal if I have to, I’m not married to the idea, I just would rather run it than not (or rather, I’d like to be healthy enough to run it than not).
I scheduled an evaluation appointment at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, to begin physical therapy on my knee. Hopefully they’ll have some good tips or answers for me with this part of the journey.
My thoughtful wife Jessica sent me an article, with some highlights too. Here they are.
Strengthen The Quadriceps.
Leg curls using a weight machine is a good way to do this, but make sure you start out with light weights until your strength increases. Another exercise is simply knee bends. Here you hold onto a table or something similar for support and gradually bend the knees until the thighs are almost horizontal. Then straighten up and repeat. Using the front of your feet makes this more effective, and do not go beyond the horizontal, which just puts extra strain on the knee joints.
Wear Stability Shoes If You Pronate
Check with your local running store (or physiotherapist) if you suspect that you have a foot strike problem. Then buy the appropriate shoes to correct this. I also like to wear cushioning shoes for marathon training, but this is a personal choice and might not suit everyone.
Avoid Sloping Running Surfaces
If you frequently run on paved roads, try to pick a flatter area where possible. Even the sidewalk is preferable although it is often a harder surface. Running tracks in gyms are usually banked, so try to avoid these as much as possible.
Be Wary Of Speed Work
Although speedwork is often called for in more advanced marathon programs, it can be a major contributor to knee problems. If you decide to do this as part of your training, go for the longer (slower) intervals rather than the short bursts of fast running. Most of us can run a successful marathon without including any formal speedwork in our training.
Take It Easy On The Hills
Hill work is a great way to improve your leg strength and aerobic capacity, and should be part of your marathon training. However too aggressive an approach, and going too fast on the downhill, can be very detrimental to your knees. This is where the ‘listen to your body’ advice comes in. If you have been strengthening your quads, and you are wearing the right footwear you are probably OK. Just ease off the moment you start to feel any discomfort.
I’m going to focus on the PT and strengthening my quads. Hopefully I’ll be up to running, and not limping around my house before too long.