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Injuries + 24 Miles

January 9, 2009

Runner’s Knee 😦

As the name suggests, runner’s knee is a common ailment among runners. But it can also strike any athlete who does activities that require a lot of knee bending — like walking, biking, and jumping. It usually causes aching pain around the kneecap.

Runner’s knee isn’t really a condition itself. It’s a loose term for several specific disorders with different causes. Runner’s knee can result from:

  • Overuse. Repeated bending of the knee can irritate the nerves of the kneecap. Overstretched tendons (tendons are the tissues that connect muscles to bones) may also cause the pain of runner’s knee. (most likely the case)
  • Misalignment. If any of the bones are slightly out of their correct position — or misaligned — physical stress won’t be evenly distributed through your body. Certain parts of your body may bear too much weight. This can cause pain and damage to the joints. Sometimes, the kneecap itself is slightly out of position.
  • Problems with the feet. Runner’s knee can result from flat feet, also called fallen arches or overpronation. This is a condition in which the impact of a step causes the arches of your foot to collapse, stretching the muscles and tendons. (I wonder if I have flat feet? I can’t tell when I run, maybe I need insoles in my shoes)

What Does Runner’s Knee Feel Like?

Symptoms of runner’s knee are:

  • Pain behind or around the kneecap, especially where the thighbone and the kneecap meet. (check)
  • Pain when you bend the knee — when walking, squatting, kneeling, running, or even sitting. (check)
  • Pain that’s worse when walking downstairs or downhill. (not so much)
  • Swelling. (don’t think so)
  • Popping or grinding sensations in the knee. (sometimes)

To diagnose runner’s knee, your doctor will give you a thorough physical exam. You may also need X-rays, MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT (Computed Tomography) scans, and other tests. (insurance won’t be happy, will have to do a self-diagnosis)

What’s the Treatment for Runner’s Knee?

Regardless of the cause, the good news is that minor to moderate cases of runner’s knee should heal on their own given time. To speed the healing you can:

  • Rest the knee. As much as possible, try to avoid putting weight on your knee.
  • Ice your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  • Compress your knee. Use an elastic bandage, straps, or sleeves to give your knee extra support. (cuts off blood circulation in my leg)
  • Elevate your knee on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down.
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin, will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects, like an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise. (not sure if this is a good idea…)
  • Practice stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor recommends them.
  • Get arch supports for your shoes. These orthotics — which can be custom-made or bought off the shelf — may help with flat feet.

Severe cases of runner’s knee may need surgery. A surgeon could take out damaged cartilage or correct the position of the kneecap so that stress will be distributed evenly.

I really hope it doesn’t get worse. Right now, it’s just a dull pain, more annoying than anything else. It’s kind of weird, because when I run faster, it goes away, maybe because I am more concentrated on speedwork, rather than knee pain. Also, I am starting up training sessions again after a 3 week break, so hopefully we can incorporate more knee strengthening exercises into our routine. The knee sleeve kind of helps, but it cuts off my blood circulation because it is so tight and sometimes my leg feels numb. I have 22 more days until Surf City and I am aiming high in hopes to qualify for Boston this year.

Just a self reflection, I feel as if I have fallen off my “runner’s high” bandwagon a little bit, where getting in a set number of miles a week is more important than feeling great about each run. Each week, I reflect if I have done my 40+ miles/week and all my x-training/weight lifting sessions, and it feels so restrictive and inflexible and plain old depressing when I don’t meet my “standards”. I am getting tired of exchanging my Friday late nights out for 6am runs with the group, then feeling exhausted Saturday night because of the long run in the morning. And then it’s back to the weekly grind again. 40+ miles/week, x-training/weight lifting 6 days/week, sigh. I just have to keep reminding myself it is just 2 more weeks of hard training, then I will taper for a week (snowboarding in the meantime) and rest a little after the marathon. Hopefully by then, I will have a better mindset and won’t be so burned out, that I can do it again in preparation for my next marathon (Pasadena March 22).

24 miles tomorrow starting at 6am, some people have told me it is not necessary to do above 20, but I think it’s the whole confidence level. I would like to know I can do 24, knowing the last 2 miles will be bliss during the actual marathon(hopefully, if I’m not in complete pain). We are running through 24 miles of beaches and even though the ocean view is great, after doing the same run so many times, it gets kind of boring. I think I like running in a more nature scenic path. I can’t wait to go back to Oregon to run the 12 mile loop around the river and bridges and through all the parks.

Willamette River

Willamette River 12 mile loop

Scenic Path

Scenic Path

Will do a recap of the 24 miler tomorrow, this post will hold me accountable when I am battling between getting up at 5am or sleeping in because it is the weekend!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 1:35 pm

    Safe to assume you’ve meet… Gastronomyblog, Activefoodie, Diana Takes a Bite, LA/OC Foodie as well as yutjangsah? Otherwise, this entry sounds painful. I’ll stick to eating and sleeping.

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