Running Injuries and Keeping Them at Bay

I injured my knee last fall while training for my first half marathon.

I ran through the pain refusing to get it looked at, afraid someone would tell me to stop running.

The day after my half marathon I finally went to the doctor to get it looked at. My family physician sent me to the physical therapist in the building to confirm my diagnosis.

Both thought it was something with my knee cap, and honestly that day it may have not been right. I’d just run the most I’d ever run, the fastest I’d ever run. My body was the usual kind of wreck as I hobbled around. I was told to come in for physio therapy twice a week. Which I did for a couple of weeks. I did a series of basic strength exercises that were meant to strengthen the muscles around my knee as well as my hips, they would also tape my knee. It was one giant waste of time. The tape didn’t help and as an athlete who was doing weight training at the time, their basic exercises were not challenging enough.

A friend told me about a local sports injury doctor that would be better suited to help me so I made the appointment and stopped going to PT.

This doctor diagnosed me with a completely different problem. The issue with my patella tendon and the corresponding muscle above it. Essentially the muscle got tired and stressed the tendon. I was told to put Voltaren on it and given a strap to wear while running to put pressure on the tendon that would cause the muscle to continue firing and told I was free to keep running.

It worked. I wore the strap for every run for a couple of months then started experimenting with leaving it at home. All good, no pain.

Towards the end of training for Mississauga it started feeling weak again, terrified I wore my strap during the race and all was fine.

I’m constantly remembering the run I had when my knee was at its worst. It was actually unexpected, I was a month past my first half, my millage was low it had been pretty okay, I was still going to PT at the time and taping my knee. Then I went out for a 12k run with a friend. We kept it flat because downhills bothered it. I think I made it about 4k before it started hurting, earlier than ever before, I could generally get to at least 6. I took several walk and stretching breaks but each running segment was getting shorter and shorter. I probably would have cried if I was alone, I was miserable and upset because I didn’t know what was wrong and my PT wasn’t helping.

I’ve been using this memory to keep me cautious. And it’s helped. As my millage ramps up I live in constant fear for my knee. I’m very aware of and I can tell it’s not at its best. I know I haven’t been wearing my strap enough as well. I’ve worn it for my last couple of long runs but that’s it. I can’t wear the strap with shorts because of the structure, the velcro doesn’t extend long enough so the end hangs on its own and my other leg catches on it.

But I need to wear it more. I had to ice my knee for the first time since the fall the other night. After a 30k long run, a recovery run the next day and a SUP session right after, my knee was not happy. I’m going to pin the end of the strap down so I can wear it with shorts. Hopefully this with Voltaren and ice will keep it happy and I can continue on with marathon training without it blowing in to a full blown injury again. It has not hurt at all during a run so far. It’s only after I can feel it. I think I’m feeling it mostly because I’m cautious and looking out for it. I know it can develop an injury again so I’m focused on my knee and how it is feeling. I know it’s not right before it even hurts so I’m taking the steps now to avoid that pain.

Icing knee and that's my knee strap beside my leg

So, strap on at all times while running, even trail runs since I have felt it’s not necessary for those. It is now. Also more hip and core strengthening to help keep things balanced.