Monday, September 20, 2010

The Hot Mess that is my knee!!

  It's no secret that I struggle with some pretty serious knee pain fairly often.  It all started on that fateful Chicago marathon day 2 years ago.  About mile 16 or 17, I suddenly had excruiating knee pain.  It hurt to walk, let alone run.  I was in tears, crying while runners all around me kept treking on! How was this possible? I did all the training, my pace was perfect, I was on target to finish in about 4 hours, pretty impressive since I was new to the whole running thing.  The last 10 miles was a pathetic attempt at finishing the race, thankfully I got a huge boost when I finally saw my family at mile 23!  My little sister jumped in and basically dragged me across the finish line!  I was exstatic that I finished but devestated when I discovered my time was 5:18!  I hobbled around for months!  I went to 2 different Drs, had xrays and MRIs and the Doctors couldn't figure out what was the problem.  I was crushed!  How could they not find something, I wasn't making it up, the pain was real!  So instead they gave me this horrific knee brace and pain killers.  I HATE meds unless absolutely necessary, so I took them for about a day and just dealt with the pain.  THe internet is an amazing thing and so after doing some research my parents and I decided that I hurt my IT Band, seems pretty dang common in runners.  So now I was on a mission to get my knee stronger, a PT (Personal Trainer) at my Mom's gym suggested a foam roll. So I started using that regularly and was ecstatic when I could finally start running again.

  Marathon 2 came around with me having every intention of dominating Chicago without an injury and getting that time I deserve!  But as fate would have it... my knee and lower back were killing me through training.  I wasn't even going to run but My Dad was running it and we had trained a lot together so i toughed it out.  Bad call on my part, while I didn't end in as much pain, the pain started much earlier in the race, causing my finish time to be about 30 seconds faster! CRAP!  Again I was devestated and cried a LOT when I saw my Dad past the finish line.  It wasn't that he had finished before me, because I really don't care about that but it was more that I was in a TON of pain again.  I told my parents that they could not allow or let me register for the Chicago Marathon this year... and here we are again... yeah they did a really good job! ;)
   This year, I have been determined to stay injury free, no matter how long/slow this marathon takes... yeah.. easier said than done!  I got into triathlons hoping that it would be a good way to do some cross training and keep me strong!  So far I have been feeling pretty strong, there is still the knee pain but not as bad as it has been.   This week I joined the gym and it's the first time I have run on a treadmill in over a year.  My knee was slightly bothering me but no big deal.  On Saturday I had to do my long run, I wanted to do 18-20 miles.  The morning was overcast, three miles in and it started rhundering and lightening! NOOO! What was I going to do? What a second....I now have a gym membership, that's the solution! 
   Since I had to do such a long run, I decided to grab my knee brace (which I am "supposed" to wear whenever I run) and I hopped on the treadmill.  About an hour in to my run on the treadmill, a PT came up to me and we started chatting.  He said that he had noticed that I came up with a knee brace on... great... I was hoping people wouldn't notice...  He asked about my knee pain so I told him a very little bit about it.  So he said he'd bet his life that I have Patellofemoral Syndrome... Say what?!  Or commonly known as Runner's knee.  I have no idea what that means but Runner's knee.. ok sure... So he said he didn't want to disrupt my run, as I awkwardly just kept running while he was chatting with me, but that he would like to do an assessment on me after I was done running.  Ok... sure...

  So I finished my run, I was sort of on a time crunch because I was going down to ISU for Saturday night and I was picking up a friend, so I only was able to crank out 15 miles.  But I found the PT and all he wanted me to do was squats... how squats would show him anything, I had no idea!  But I did the first squat and my bad knee gave out and I almost fell on my butt... yeah, pretty embarassing!  I tried correcting it and he told me to just let my body do what it wants while doing the squat, not to try to correct it..  So I did a grand total of 15 - 20 squats. 

    Here comes the shocking part:  He said that I was absolutely correct that IT Band is SUPER tight.  He said that I have a muscular imbalance, that my calves and my IT Band is really tight but my adductors (inner thighs) and my tear drop muscle is really weak.  Because my tear drop muscle is so weak and my ITB is so strong when I run my knee collapses and causes the pain.    He also said that he thinks I have weak inner lower core muscles which can often cause lower back pain... yep, by this time I was speachless... I hadn't even told him about my back problems! What is he doing, reading my mind!?  He also said that my shoulder muscles are really tight which causes me to slouch, especially after a long workout, run or a long day! What is the world?! How could he possibly have figured this out from 20 squats!?!?
    Needless to say I am ecstatic to be able to get to the bottom of these problems, probably too late to salvage this marathon but... if I fix these problem areas.. Hello Ironman!

   Sorry for the ramblings, Im just ecstatic that after multiple Drs, xrays, MRIs, Chiropractic care, etc I might have found someone who can give me solid answers to my problems and help me fix them! WOOHOO!!!


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  2. Ok Miss I Told You So....
    1. It's not my core that is causing all the problems, it's really my lower calves... And I do have a strong core, just not the really low core muscles, so don't hate! ;)
    2. I refuse to even acknowledge that question other than to say you and Dad are pathetic, that was the first question out of his mouth!

  3. Hi, can I ask what type of exercise fixed or strengthened this problem, it sounds similar to what i'm suffering from right now.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Quin,
      I'm sorry I didn't respond right away, blogger doesn't seem to want to take my comments! But to answer your question, one of the things that has helped the most has been foam rolling! Do you foam roll? It's a great way to work out the knots in your muscles to make sure they can function properly! It's painful but the difference is incredible! The other thing that has made a HUGE difference is just overall strength and conditioning. I had some muscular imbalances that I wasn't aware of which caused me to run with an incorrect form. Most people don't realize that knee problems are often directly related to hip problems or in my case lazy glutes! I hope this helps!


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