How to improve a runner’s knee

As you know, earlier this year I did a half-marathon which was probably the most intensive training that I did so far. I don’t remember encountering any pain in the duration. Most to most was that I felt extremely tired when I was done.

I took a break after that, before starting to jog casually again. It was only then when I realised that I had pains in my left knee – it felt as if the muscles in my knee were made of multiple rubber bands and it hurts when I tried to extend it. So I hobbled a bit and it disappeared a few minutes once I start jogging. The feeling wasn’t like KILL! PAIN! DESTRUCTION! RAGE! But I was of course, concerned.

While I was in Singapore, after picking my race pack for my 15km run, I happened to walk past a booth that was promoting their physiotherapy company. I was Intrigued because of my knee, so I walked up to learn more and I met with Ben, who was very knowledgeable and patient.

One of the first question that he asked me was, “Do you do stretches?”

Sheepishly, I admitted that apart from some sun salutations, and some ankle and knee rotations, I did little stretching.

And then he asked me to do some moves, like a one leg squat and that was when I realised that I felt tightness in some area. He also started to put a little bit of pressure with his hands on my legs, and I almost screamed when he pressed my left thigh. It was painful!

(Interestingly, it didn’t hurt at all for my right side. Which was surprisingly unexpected)

At length, he diagnosed me as having a runner’s knee, which usually happens when you train for too much, and too quickly, which doesn’t allow the body to get adjusted in time. According to him, I also need to do more exercises to strengthen my muscles, not only for the legs, but also the glutes which is important to hold them together.

Basically, it’s a fallacy that just because you’re a runner, you need to only work your leg muscles. It’s good to have an overall strength for improved performance.

Cart was saying something interesting about footballers in the 70s looking like T-Rexes because of their stocky legs and tiny upper parts because their legs were the only parts that was concentrated due to lack of information during the times.

(I can’t get rid of the mental images of T-Rexes playing soccer, with their short arms. It’s too funny!)

In the end, Ben taught me how to do massages to help relieve the muscle aches that I had. I made sure that Cart saw it too, so he could do it for me (^_^) You could use those muscle rubbing gel on your skin, but regular body creams work too. And you basically push the ache in a straight direction with your thumb (a tennis ball works too)

Finally Ben used a kinesiology tape on my knee to help speed up its recovery time. Which come to think of it, was probably the reason why I didn’t feel any pain the entire week leading up to my 15km run. I did everything else pretty much the same.

(This picture was taken several days after the taping)

The irony is, I bought for myself a roll of that tape but I don’t know HOW to use it because the ache is now in a different location (more in the soleus than the thigh) ever since I’ve changed to my minimus shoes.

Today I’ll share with you the exercises that Ben taught me to do to strengthen my glutes. I normally do this before I go jogging :

  1. Clamshell (3 x 10 reps)
  2. Hip extention (3 x 10 reps)
  3. Single leg bridging (3 x 10 reps)
  4. Squats (3 x 10 reps)
  5. Lunges (3 x 8 reps)
  6. Single leg squat (3 x 8 reps)

And when I’m done jogging, I do these stretches to ease the muscles.

  1. Quadriceps stretch
  2. Hamstring stretch
  3. Hip Flexors stretch
  4. ITB Stretch
  5. Gastroc Stretch
  6. Soleus Stretch (I really feel this!)

For these stretches, you are supposed to hold the pose for 20 seconds each rep (5 times), so I use an app called the Tabata HIIT timer on my phone to help count for me.

So far, I feel a great improvement since I started doing these stretches and I’m always pleasantly surprised that I my aches are reducing to the point of being relatively pain free since a month that I’ve picked up jogging again back in Rome.

Of course, I’m going to take it easy, and not exert myself and slow down when I feel something about to act up. I really don’t want to completely damage my legs and end up in a wheelchair.

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