I’m a runner, I haven’t always been one, but over the last 5 years I have learned to embrace running and the benefits I get from it. Unfortunately for many, myself included, running can be sidelined by knee pain. Running with knee pain ultimately dashes hopes and results in money wasted on events that cannot be participated in but for which entry fees were already paid. There are many things you can try to heal knee pain and get back to running.
My personal journey with knee pain started about 2 years ago. For the first several months I just ignored it. It wouldn’t hurt while I was running, but kick in the moment I stopped. It only lasted for a few hours afterward, so I just figured that I wasn’t stretching enough. (which was probably true) I ran a trail 25k (15.53 mi) pretty much untrained and that’s when it really kicked in. After that my knees would hurt just walking around, and going up or down stairs was excruciating. I am on the floor a fair amount for my job (I work in Special Education) and getting up was a major effort. Finally I was convinced by a friend that I had “runner’s knee” also referred to as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.
Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)
Runner’s knee is characterized by pain pretty much anywhere in or around the knee. Some people experience it more on the inner side of the knee, some under the kneecap and like myself, primarily the outer and lower sides of the knees. PFPS is caused by the patella (kneecap) rubbing against the femoral groove.
As soon as I believed I had runner’s knee I made an appointment with a physical therapist. For many runners this is their initial response to a mild injury. I was wholeheartedly disappointed after several costly appointments to find that she felt should couldn’t help me. A common reason for runner’s knee is “pancake butt” or weak glutes resulting in extra pull on the knee from the quads during running rather than use of the glutes to propel forward. The PT said I definitely didn’t have pancake butt so recommended an elaborate taping regimen to get back to running. I did try that for a number of weeks, and I got some relief, but I didn’t care for the 15 minutes of taping before every run. I didn’t feel it was addressing the issue, but just putting a band-aid on it! By now I had missed several half marathons I had intended to run and was getting pretty frustrated. I went back to the PT and she recommended I try dry needling. Talk about costly!
According to the gentleman I went to who was a certified dry needler, dry needling is basically acupuncture without the Chinese mysticism. In acupuncture the practitioner follows energy pathways whereas with dry needling they follow nerve pathways. I tried the dry needling several times, a few days apart, and felt great, and my spirits were buoyed…for about 3 days. Then the pain returned as if I had done nothing. This is now 4 months after the pain started and my running had decreased to zero miles a week. For anyone who runs regularly, you know what a toll this can take on one’s psyche and fitness level. It’s ROUGH!!! Not to mention that family outings to hike or go biking were all sidelined as well.
Because I had had a little relief with the taping I continued to try that and began to see a chiropractor. I’ve had very good luck with other issues using chiropractic and was very hopeful this would do the trick. I will say that it provided me with enough relief to be able to fully function as my job and do short runs of 3-5 miles without “much” pain afterward. However, after about a dozen visits I had to acknowledge that this too wasn’t fully addressing any cause and without constant chiro appointments I wouldn’t be able to run at the rate I previously had enjoyed.
Because I turned 50 this year, I had intended to do a Half Ironman to celebrate. The event I wanted to do was in July and I began training for the swim in January and also began to build up my running mileage about the same time. I figured my knees were good enough and I could tape up and push through the pain to achieve my goal. At the end of February I went out for a 9 mile run and actually had to stop at 5 miles and limp back to my car. This was really the first time that I had much pain during the run. This was a major set back. I was completely unable to run even a half mile after that. For the next two months I tried to find something that might help and get me back to running. I tried chiropractic some more and got a bit of relief, but my dreams of a Half Ironman were clearly not going to happen, thank goodness I had learned by this time not to sign up until the last minute, just in case. Even swimming was painful on my knees!
Talk about frustrating! This had now been going on for 20 months! My social life was in the toilet (because it is primarily centered around running), my goals had been shattered and I there was no real relief in sight.
Doing my own research on joint issues I came across information about the benefits of diatomaceous earth. Because DE is crushed sea shells it’s primarily comprised of silica which is found in our joints, skin, and hair. I began taking about a half teaspoon a day in my morning coffee and noticed that the pain seemed somewhat less. DE is fairly inexpensive and does a number of other good things for your body, such as cleaning your intestinal track.
Having found a tiny bit of relief, and now setting my sights on a Half Iron in 2018, I decided to take a spin class. How GLAD I was! The instructor happened to be a local Ironwoman whom I greatly admire. She and I had run portions of events together in the past, she always kicks my butt in spite of being a number of years older than I. I briefly explained to her why she hadn’t seen me in quite a while and she gave me the BEST recommendation, which I will now share with you!
She too had battled knee pain for which surgery had been recommended. She, like me, is fairly averse to surgeries and sought out alternative treatments. She found the book by Peter Egoscue, called “Pain Free, A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain”. I immediately ordered it, and received it two days later. Honestly, I skipped reading most of it and went right to the section on knee pain. Mr. Egoscue gives a detailed description of how to evaluate which of his exercises you should do for what type of pain you are experiencing and also great photos and descriptions of how to perform the exercises. Low and behold after less than one week of following his advice I was completely pain free. I went out for a three mile run, NO PAIN! A few days later a five mile, and again NO PAIN.
Thankfully, the exercises are very simple and some of them can be done pretty much anywhere. No special equipment is needed and boy! Are they effective. After about 2 weeks of pain free running I signed up for a sprint Triathlon (¼ mi swim, 15 mi. Bike and 5K run) and a half marathon.
That book has been a lifesaver! I happily completed the triathlon in September, 22 months after the pain started. A few weeks later I did the half marathon, with absolutely NO PAIN. I continue to run regularly and feel fantastic. I’m so happy that I found something that actually addressed the root of the problem and gave me a way to continually repair my body should it be needed. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is experiencing joint pain in pretty much any part of their body as he has sections for wrist, neck, sciatica, lower back, hips etc.
If you have joint pain, give this book a try!!! I hope it helps you like it did me!