For as long as I’ve been running, I’ve suffered mildly from runner’s knee. I over-pronate, which means my feet (and knees) fall inward when I run. This creates undue stress on them at times, particularly if running on an uneven surface like my favourite, the towpath by the River Lea. What then happens isn’t pain, but I can feel the quadriceps tendon doing some gymnastics over my patella that neither were designed for, before everything pops back into place. I often experience this while running, and become more mindful about my running form in these moments.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been noticing this more than usual, and on Monday’s run, the balance tipped from discomfort into mild pain, briefly. Typically, it then went away completely over the last few miles of my run, but I decided to do my next run in a knee support and keep an eye on it. On Tuesday I ran with the elites at Run Dem Crew and the knee was 100% niggle-free. However, I noticed the discomfort again the next day when doing non-running related activity that involved bending at the knee so I decided to have a few days off running and did a little research.
Plenty of people suffer from runner’s knee, including non-runners, and it’s treatable. The first thing is to reduce mileage. I’ve not run since Tuesday. I’m tempted to run on Saturday, at an easy pace, just to see how things are, but if I feel any twinges between now and then, I’ll leave it. Today I swam for 40 minutes instead of running 5 easy miles, and that will have given me the necessary cardio workout, while also being extremely enjoyable in the February sunshine at London Fields Lido.
Next, it’s important to strengthen the quads, as a stronger, more stable leg is less likely to be susceptible. I’ve been doing calisthenics and yoga twice a week each in addition to my running, but it was good to confirm exactly what exercises are most useful for addressing this problem. Number 1 is the plyometric jump squat, so I’m going to include more of those in my workouts moving forward.
Since I’ve been doing so much yoga, I’d assumed it was OK to stop foam-rolling. Apparently not. The advice is to roll the quads and the IT-band for 2/3 minutes each per day. I have been reintroduced to my roller and I’m taking the pain I’m feeling as evidence of the value of the work.
The final element of recovery is icing and/ or taking anti-inflammatories. When I’ve been home, I’ve been doing both, so hopefully that will pay off. I know for a fact I’ll be able to race the Regents Park 10K on March 6th, but hope to do that without discomfort. Like all runners, I worry about cutting down on the miles, especially as I’ve been getting pretty fast again, but I’ll listen to my body moving forward. Wish me luck!