Lots of things have been happening over here in the Harley household. For starters, I am very excited to say that my first half marathon of the fall is fast approaching in less than 2 weeks. The down side is that for the last 3 weeks I have been slowly cultivating my patellofemoral pain syndrome…better known as “Runners Knee”.
I first thought I had a slight problem about 3 weeks ago when I started having a slight tenderness below my kneecap when I was going up and down stairs. Of course, being the awesome self-aware runner that I am (ahem), I kept running on it, making no changes whatsoever. Then I noticed a little pain just at the very beginning of my runs, but it would go away within a half mile. Again, didn’t do anything differently. I finally thought that perhaps I should take a week off running about a week ago when I started noticing pain when I got out of bed in the morning, or just sitting in the chair. I got the bright idea of using the elliptical machine at the YMCA for my long run (about 11 miles) that was scheduled over the weekend.
Boy was that a mistake! Although the elliptical did not cause any pain or discomfort while I was on the machine, that afternoon I started feeling really sore and stiff, and that night…holy cow…I was up all night with knee pain and cramping. I tried everything….motrin….icing….anti-inflammatory cream….elevation…nothing worked. So, I took a week off running. Unfortunately, that is the same week that the YMCA decided to close the pool for their yearly cleaning/ painting/ etc. Boohoo. So, I had about a week of doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I totally could have done weight lifting, biking, and other stuff but didn’t. Apparently I needed the rest? That’s what we are going with!
So, on Monday I went to my sports medicine physician just to make sure I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing. This is what he told me.
Runners Knee is signified by pain below the kneecap, usually when going up and down stairs. It is caused by inflammation of the knee and surrounding structures. It can be caused by overuse and by a weakness of the hip muscles. So, when you run, if you have weak gluteus or hip muscles, the knee will turn slightly and the kneecap gets pulled slightly out of alignment and starts rubbing on the tendon/ ligaments and this causes inflammation. The good news is that he said I can go back to running. The bad news is that I have to do stretching/ strengthening exercises for my hips/ glutes to reduce any strength disparities. He offered me a knee brace, but I declined as the pain is not too bad and I plan on it getting better quickly.
Of course, treatment also consists of icing after running, taking motrin after my long runs, and generally avoiding anything that causes a significant amount of pain. So, with that, I went to the gym and did 45 minutes of pool running and felt great!
I hope you never have to deal with Runners Knee, but if you do, rest assured it is a very common injury and usually very treatable, provided you catch it early and fix the problem where it originates.