The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Well done to all the Shinjuku runners today!

After my knee flared up again yesterday I iced and stretched a lot. Today, I only made it 15 minutes before my knee went again. If there was any good news, it's that my left knee didn't hurt. We were running tempo (ペース走) though, so maybe I didn't stress it much.

Last week was meant to be my big week of training for the marathon. I ran a total of 29 minutes. Hmmmm. Maybe that's not the best way to prepare.

If I can't run this week I need to think of ways to stay aerobically fit without using my knees. I have read that for my right knee - which has chondromalacia - I can't even do running in water. If it really is as bad as I fear, I'm not meant to bend the knee.

I really thought the massage I had on Friday loosened me up enough to get my kneecaps tracking properly again, but I was too optimistic.

I wonder what will happen in the marathon if I can line up and finish. The lack of miles will hurt me, but I've done a lot of long runs before this injury hit, including a 2 hour run every Monday for about 4 months and the run that saw my right knee go was 30kms. So I have some miles in my legs. I just have a 4-week taper!

Here's a good piece on chondromalacia from the Cool Running website.

Runner's Knee
(Chondromalacia of the patella)

Pain around and sometimes behind the kneecap. One of the most common injuries among runners, runner's knee most often strikes as runners approach forty miles per week for the first time. Even after taking a few days off, the pain seems to come right back, sometimes even intensifying, after the first few miles of the next run. The pain often feels worst when running downhill or walking down stairs, and the knee is often stiff and sore after sitting down for long periods. You might hear a crunching or clicking sound when you bend or extend your knee.

The sure-fire test for runner's knee: sit down and put your leg out on a chair so that it's stretched out straight. Have a friend squeeze your leg just above the knee while pushing on the kneecap. She should push from the outside of the leg toward the center. At the same time, tighten your thigh muscle. If this is painful, you're looking at runner's knee.

Likely causes:
It's actually not your knee's fault at all. Blame your feet and thighs; for one reason or another they aren't doing their jobs properly. Your knee moves up and down in a narrow little groove in your thigh bone. It's a nifty design: when your legs and feet are working efficiently, your knee moves smoothly and comfortably with every step. But trouble appears when your kneecap moves out of its track, or rubs up against its sides. That trouble becomes pain when you factor in nearly 1000 steps per cartilage-grinding mile. Over time the cushioning cartilage around the knee becomes worn. That smarts. And that's runner's knee.

How did your knee get off track? Probably because of relatively weak thigh muscles and a lack of foot support. It's your thigh muscles that hold your kneecap in place, preventing it from trying to jump its track. Running tends to develop the back thigh muscles (hamstrings) more than those in the front (the quadriceps), and the imbalance is sometimes enough to allow the kneecap to pull and twist to the side.

Your foot, meanwhile, may not be giving you the stability you need. It's likely that your feet are making a wrong movement every time they hit the ground, and you're feeling the constant pounding and repetition of this mistake in your knee. Maybe you're overpronating (rolling your foot in) or supinating (turning it out too much) when you run.

Runner's knee is further aggravated by simple overuse. If you have steeply increased your mileage recently, you might consider holding back a bit. Likewise, back off on new hill work or speed work. Runner's knee can also be brought on by running on banked surfaces or a curved track. Running on a road that is banked at the sides, for example, effectively gives you one short leg, causing it to pronate and put pressure on the knee. Try as much as possible to run on a level surface, or at the very least give each leg equal time as "the short leg."

This is an easily treatable injury with a little patience. First, relieve the pain by icing your knees immediately after running. You can use commercially available cold packs or simply put a wet towel in the freezer before you run. Wrap the cold packs around each knee for about fifteen minutes to bring down the swelling. Take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or aspirin after running, too, but only with food and never before running. Before bed, put heating pads or warm wet towels on your knees for half an hour.

Stabilize your feet. Make sure you have the right kind of shoes for your foot type (review our tips on shoe shopping). Consider buying a commercially made foot support in the footcare section of your drug store. If, in combination with thigh-strengthening exercises, the foot supports are not enough to get rid of the injury, see a podiatrist about whether you might need orthotics.


At 5:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a cyclist and I recently started suffering the same thing in my right knee. My x rays looked great.
I have been self treating trying to strengthen the muscles. I do a lot of stretching as well as leg lifts, from both a seated and reclined position. I also do slow kicks like a football punter,and I use half a concrete block as a weight and do standing slow kicks / leg raises. I have seen a slow, small improvement during the last two weeks.
Good luck!

At 5:01 pm, Anonymous Ingo said...

Gordon, reading this brought one thing to my mind: I have never seen you in anything else than racing flats. What's the heaviest pair you have? Get some clunky Asics or other heavy duty gear for a change and see how it feels. Your weight-saving road cycling heritage won't help you much in running. The recent improvements in my running I achieved with the heaviest gear out there. My weight would allow to run a lot in lightweight trainers or flats but I opted for support and cushioning which worked well for me so far. Btw good job not lining up for the Shinjuku Half! The god of running will surely grant you a few brownie points for this hard but good decision! Ingo

At 10:17 pm, Blogger oldsprinter said...

Ingo, I wear flats for racing and training on the track - but I do wear a pair of Mizuno Wave Aeros for training - with Superfeet innersoles in them.

I'm bloody down about my knees. The marathon won't be happening. It sucks.

At 10:42 pm, Blogger oldsprinter said...

A big thankyou to the anonymous poster, too. Good luck with your effort to fix your knee.

At 5:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I hear people run the Wave Aero in anything shorter than 10k. They still are about 100g lighter than the heavy duty gear from Asics for example.

And better do yourself a favour by putting the Tokyo Marathon behind you for good. No back and forth and maybe... that would drive you nuts and you'll be more frustrated in the end. Just say "fk it" right now and have a big night out with many beers to get over it. I'll join you! Ingo


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home