*Well almost. But, importantly yesterday I visited my physiotherapist and she told me that I didn’t need to schedule any future appointments. Woohoo!
As some of you might know, I’ve been dealing with injuries since the start of the year. Nothing too serious and I’ve had medical approval to do all of my running.
It started back in January with some mild hip pain, which was pretty easily cured with some hip strengthening exercises. Unfortunately, this was quickly followed by pain in my right knee which has been bugging my from February til now. The initial diagnosis was, you guessed it, weak hips and a much weaker right leg. And as any runner knows, a muscle imbalance usually manifests itself in many different ways – for me this meant foot pain in my opposite leg. Meaning two complete weeks away from running – nicely timed to coincide with peak week for my half marathon number 2.
Although, I was able to train for and complete two half marathons in the first half of the year, this injury made me incredibly paranoid about amping up my mileage for my marathon in October. During the initial injury I had managed to bruise my fat pad on my knee. I would recommend never doing this – it has taken forever for this pain to go away.
For a while, it was painful to walk down any stairs. I’d have to psyche myself up at the top and do an old lady shuffle to get down. Not fun. And during this time (pity party central) I was struggling to imagine ever running (or taking stairs) pain-free.
What worked for me was time + leg strengthening. Time: I wanted to be fixed straight away. But fixing muscle imbalances that have been there for 30+years takes longer than two weeks -we’re talking 6 months here. I focused on improving my running form (which I got complimented on – by my PT “Your running mechanics are really good” – and a friend who told me “You look like a fast runner”).
I also thought about making running more fun – if I was going to hurt a little then I wanted to make my runs even funner (that’s not a word but whatever – you know what I mean). For me, this meant more trail running and running with people, and a lot of times combining both of these things.
Leg strengthening: I cannot tell you how much this has improved my running. My legs (and butt) and so much stronger and I think this has definitely carried over into my running times. I have a pretty regular routinne (5x a week on top of running, gym work and yoga) of:
Single leg bridges
Lateral leg raises, leg circles
Single leg leg press
Squats with resistance bands
Leg swings with resistance bands
The physiotherapist that I’ve been seeing is a running specialist and has a fancy treadmill that records every aspect of your run – cadence, force and a whole bunch of crazy graphs and charts. Yesterday, for the first time, there was no significant difference between my left and right feet.
And because I’m increasing my mileage (25->40 miles per week) and feeling LESS pain she was happy to let me loose – with the caveat that I need to continue doing these exercises during marathon training, and with the understanding that this is how my body naturally is and that I will always have to incorporate leg strengthening work in the future.
There still is some pain there – especially after a long run but it is nowhere near as bad as it used to be and my recovery time is significantly shorter. I’ve also had a couple of completely pain-free runs in the last couple of weeks. So I’m hopeful that I am in the finishing strait of this injury.
So this is a lot of writing about my knee……….But I wanted to share this with anyone who is suffering through a chronic injury that is improving way too slowly. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It will take time and it will suck right now, but you will get back to pain-free running. And when you do – it is AMAZING!