Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

Remember that song, as a kid?

“Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes…”

Well today , we’re going to talk about knees. More specifically, my right knee. Yes, the one I injured a year ago (patellar tendonitis) and again a year+ before that (IT band).

In the past week or so, said right knee has been a little “off” is the best way I can use to describe it.  You see, it doesn’t bug me at all when I run or go to barre n9ne class. Nope. Feels great, in fact. The only time it’s been bugging me ever so slightly is when I’m sitting for long periods of time. It’s only then that it sort of gets achy, not painful per se, just not quite “right.”

…good thing I don’t sit at my desk for 8-9 hours a day and sit in my car for another 3.
Um, I wish.

So here’s the thing – I do NOT think I’m injured. I really don’t. I’ve had enough “real” knee injuries in the past to know the difference. I physically couldn’t run when I was injured before, it hurt too much. So to me, this is different. If anything, it feels more like a touch of runner’s knee or something, but it still perplexes me that it never hurts when I’m being active.

But now I’m sitting here thinking – ok self:
…are you just ignoring the symptoms for fear of having to stop running?
…or, are you actually listening and your body is simply just telling you to be careful to avoid a ‘real’ injury from popping up?

Either way, I’m sort of just sitting here mulling it over (yes, more sitting, dammit!) and am welcoming your advice and input. All very non-scientific, non-expert-y advice (both are real words, btw) I know, but ya’ll are so damn smart and experienced in your own right, you’re bound to bring up a point or two I hadn’t already thought of.

Some clues in case you want some help in forming said non-scientific-y, non-expert-y advice: 
– My running mileage the past few weeks has hovered in the 20-25 miles/week range (mix of treadmill and outdoor runs, some interval, some steady-state)
– I’m running four times a week, no more than that
– I’m building in more stretching, particularly after I run (BUT I need to invest in a foam roller ohhh about four years too late…I know, I know).
– The stretching and strengthening I do comes in the form of barre n9ne classes, 4-5 classes per week
– I’m taking at least one FULL rest day a week

So this is me – actually asking you for your advice. The flood gates are open, lemme have it. (and don’t worry, I have a few ideas of my own, I kinda just want to compare with your ideas, first!) 😉

<braces self>

41 thoughts on “Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

  1. Hmmmmmmmm……..I’ve been so worried about my knee injury resurfacing that any time I feel even the slightest twinge I back it off. I have learned that rest days are a GOOD THING for our bodies. Oh, and stretch, stretch, stretch!!! (and see a doctor – 🙂 )

    • I know – that’s how I feel too, this “slight twinge” of mine has me worried and wanting to avoid a “real” injury so badly! I’m hoping that a few days of not running and focusing on strengthening with barre n9ne and stretching will fix me right up. If not, perhaps a visit to the doctor is in order…but I hope not 😦

  2. Tim has knee issues, too…and it always (and I mean ALWAYS) got worse when he used the dreadmill. It changes how you run and the surface is different from the road…

    My theory. 🙂

    • THAT is my exact theory too. This knee thing only recently cropped up and I gotta believe the treadmill running I’ve been doing has got to be partly to blame. I had NO issues before that, none. Was so proud of myself after two half marathons in close succession, that I’d avoided any sort of injury. So to potentially be facing one now is infuriating. AND if it’s because of the treadmill – the damn thing I’ve learned to NOT hate, even worse!

  3. You know – Jessica might be onto something with the tread runs. It really and truly does change how you typically run. I find I tend to start striding out randomly. Do you run with it on a slight incline? That is supposed to help. Also, when you’re running, are you on cambered roads? It sucks when it comes down to things like this b/c it could be so many factors – like just sitting too long. I have to make sure I don’t let my knees fall open when I sit b/c then mine get achy too.

    • I’m thinking the dreadmill could be part of it. Like I said to Jessica, this didn’t become an issue until very recently which leads me to believe the treadmill could be part of it. It definitely isn’t a very forgiving surface, that’s for sure.

      I also think the sheer amount of sitting I’m forced to do at work and while commuting can’t be helping matters. I need to get up and about and moving more during the day, even if that means stretching while in my cube – I might scare my co-workers but whatever 😉

  4. I actually hated running on your treadmill. It felt like it got stuck every now and then and I had to hop up a bit to keep it going. It was weird. Do you notice that? Jessica may be on to something, I agree. I also think maybe one day of low impact would help you too, just to ease up a wee bit. Other than that, I have no idea what it could be. BUT we both need foam rollers!

    • Funny – I always hated the treadmills at the gym vs mine at home. Maybe I’m just used to running on it? I do think all that running on it might not be helpful since the surface is not forgiving at all. I also NEEEEEED to get the damn foam roller. Maybe I’ll go out and get one at lunch today, just DO it, right??

  5. It could be any number of things but one thing to ask is – is it referral pain? – meaning, is there something wrong somewhere else that is causing the pain to manifest itself in the knee. I have been having hamstring discomfort but I know the problem is in the glute. Something to think about. And something that you will experience and learn more about as you delve more into 26.2.

    • Hmm, hadn’t thought of that. My hip flexors have been tight lately so I’ve been paying more attention to stretching them a LOT more and it’s helping. So maybe the tight hip flexors has put extra stress on my knee lately? That could very well be it, actually.

  6. Ahhhh, the dreaded knee. I hear you. Mine always give me issues. Rest, stretching, and good shoes changed every 500 miles usually help me. I think if it continues giving you issues, investigate the issue with a doctor. Especially before you embark on your marathon training. Sending a healing prayer your way!

    • I know – knee issues are infuriating, aren’t they?? I’m hoping a little rest and easing up is all it’ll take. But you’re right – if it persists, a trip to the doctor (cringe, HATE the doctor) might be in order. Thank you for the healing prayers my friend, xo!

  7. If it were me and I were getting ready to take on a major goal, I would go to the doctor and get it checked out. There is no such thing as being too cautious and what if it’s something really simple that you can address now before it becomes a major issue?

    • I knowwww, such good advice. Can I bargain with you? If it continues after I ease up, rest, etc., I’ll go to the doctor? For now, I’m not ready to take it there – then it feels a lot more serious than I hope it is. SIGH!

  8. Sorry you are having knee issues. I have right knee issues too. I found stretching and doing strengthening really helped along with icing. I sing this song to Isabel everyday!

    • Funny that it’s the same knee, sis! I’ve been icing and stretching today which has really helped. Fingers crossed that this is all it’ll take. Hopefully I’m not being delusional!!

  9. I am picking up what you are putting down. You don’t feel 100% but you don’t feel bad enough to question stopping. I would definitely ease back on running or hard impact for a bit, Try biking or other cardio. You won’t lose an ounce of your ability and it might help relax your knee a bit.

    I’ve gone the the same thing and it’s a lot easier to stop before than after you’re injured.

    Keep us posted!!

    • YES – you hit the nail on the head. I don’t feel bad enough to stop entirely. I just know that something isn’t 100% “right” which is why I’m trying to pause and reflect. Maybe that’s a better way to put it – I’m simply going to “pause and reflect” this week and reassess by the end of the week. Ultimately, you’re absolutely right- easing up for a few days will not cause me to suddenly lose my ability, it might be all that I need to feel 100% again. That’s my hope anyway. Fingers and toes and EVERYTHING crossed over here!!

  10. I have the exact same thing in my right knee! Doesn’t hurt during the run or other exercise – only when I’ve been sitting for an extended period of time which isn’t very often with my lifestyle (no desk job). I used to ice it almost every night when I was training to run half marathons, but I haven’t iced it lately. I *think* yoga is helping it, but there are certain poses where it begins to hurt. I’m sorry this turned into me venting with no good advice! At least we know we’re not alone. 🙂

    • No no, this is really helpful Dorry – means I’m a) not alone and b) I’m probably not seriously injured, just need to pull back a bit and stretch and care for my body a little bit more. Thank youuuu!!

  11. Eeekers…the dreaded knee. I know that pain far too well 😦 My humble advice…don’t go to the Dr. quite yet. I went when my knee first started hurting and they told me to rest it, ice it, take advil, stretch A LOT (with a focus on hip flexors and it band). Once that’s done, if it still hurts, check out the doc. You’ve got plenty of time until marathon training starts. Just be kind to your body. Maybe switch up a run for a nice long walk.

    • Ahh you are making me feel so much better about things!! I was worried that you guys would all tell me to stop running, never to run again, that I’m totally injured and to just give up. LOL. Dramatic, much??

      But you’re right – being kind to my body may be the best and only therapy I need right now. I’m going to try hard to listen and do just that!

  12. I was having a lot of knee issues in the midst of my marathon training (that started right after my first half marathon) and it was so frustrating. I would have to end long runs too soon because my knee literally hurt to bad to keep going.
    I had asked (over Facebook, lol) my doctor about it and she explained that a lot of knee problems have a lot to do with heel striking. After that I continued to run, but I tried to focus my attention to my feet and heels and form while running. I iced a lot, too. Then one day the pain went a way. Literally. It was like magic. I don’t know if it was because of anything I did, but I was so thankful.
    I don’t know that my story will help you out at all…but there’s hope it will get better!

    • Knee issues are SO FRUSTRATING, and must have been totally infuriating to you when you were in the midst of marathon training to boot! I will think about the foot strike thing the next time I run, I think form is so important in all workouts, and have tried to pay attention to it a lot more lately. I haven’t, however, been paying close attention to foot strike. I’ll try it – that and icing and stretching which I’ve been doing today! 🙂

  13. I haven’t read everyone else’s responses because my head hurts and I need a nap but I wanted to weigh in with what I do know…

    I had runner’s knee before I ever started running (makes sense, right?). Quad strength is the #1 thing the doctor told me to make sure I had plenty of. Now, of course, I try to keep my weekly mileage close to 30+ and I think that helps the quads big time because I don’t have symptoms.

    Awesomest (yes, that’s a word) exercise? Wall squats with a ball – squeeze a ball in between your legs with your knees, and do squats. It’s kinda fun, helps keep good form, and works those quads big time!

    • Sooo here’s the thing – we do a LOT of quad work in barre n9ne, especially at the barre and on the floor. I feel like my quads have gotten a lot stronger because of it but maybe I can persuade a certain instructor or two to add more quad strengthening work to those classes just for me. Somehow I think they wouldn’t mind. 😉

      As for squats – those are out for me. One of the reasons my legs have gotten longer and leaner and stronger is because I have STOPPED doing squats and lunges entirely. They build up the “side swoop” on your legs which makes them appear larger and bulkier than needed. So when I say I get a lot of quad and glute work in class, it’s NOT because of a single squat or a lunge. Amazing, right?

      Buuuut I do want to keep focused on the quads and hips and loosening those suckers. I think it’s a big reason my knee is starting to ache, tight hips!

  14. So much amazing advice here! My 2 cents: Treadmill sounds like a culprit, also perhaps you are pushing speed too much? Lastly, RICE! A few days of alternating ICE and HEAT and resting with your leg up might do wonders.

    • I’m seriously blown away by all the awesome advice in this post. You guys are AWESOME!!

      I’m definitely on that rice and heat train!! No running for a few days and lots of stretching (which usually I find a reason NOT to do) will hopefully be just what my knee needs.
      Also – hadn’t considered the speed thing but maybe? I have been pushing it on the treadmill a bit to see how fast I can go by the end of a steady state run and have also been doing intervals at MOST once per week, but maybe I should pare that back for a bit too?

    • I wonder that. I definitely need to sit up straighter, feet on the floor at work – and also when driving. I cross my feet a lot too. Maybe I need to pay closer attention to that!

  15. It doesnt sound like you are injured but you have to go real easy with the knee. It could be a number of things. Someone mentioned referral pain and thats a good one that people dont think of. Always make it a point to stretch your hamstring, quads and IT bands so that you get stretch all the muscles that are supporting your knee. That was a piece of advice my physical therapist gave me when my IT bad was inflamed earlier this year.

    • I think you’re right – not injured…yet. But doing all the things you suggest and laying off the running for a few days should hopefully prevent a full-blown injury. Fingers and toes crossed!

  16. That logic worked great for my hamstring….uh wait…

    I personally found that I sucked at giving a clear impartial assessment of my injuries–turns out I’m biased towards running.

    Keep listening to your body, and maybe even decrease your mileage a bit. Look into doing anything to strengthen the area in question too. Just be careful!!

    • Hm you’re right – I’m very biased towards running too, dammit!

      But yes, I am doing my damnedest to listen to my body, even though I’m not loving what it’s telling me right now.

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  19. Jess, tight hip flexors bother a lot of my work colleagues who sit for long sessions and they are onto this new trend of sitting on one of these chairs at work:
    these chairs look funny but seem to really help. You can get them on Amazon. Also we use a reminder on our computers that is meant to make us get up every twenty minutes to move, since it dims our screens until we do it! I have to say twenty minutes comes pretty fast sometimes when you are really into writing something on the computer, but it just shows how much being in a sitting position for hours on end is NOT GOOD. We have a yoga instructor who gives us a weekly session at school and she says that making kids sit in chairs for long periods is actually debilitating and deforming. Just adding up all the hours we are forced to be immobile for work purposes is startling.

    • Thanks mom 🙂

      You’re right, even just getting up and about more during the day (especially when I’m working from home) should REALLY help. It’s scary sad how much sitting we all do in our days, and at what a young age we’re all subjected to it. I have an idea – all kids should have treadmills at their desks to walk on while sitting in class. Same with in the office environment. 🙂

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  21. My knees do the same thing, Jess. Both of them do, but mostly my right. It’s only when I’m sitting. It’s as if the knee doesn’t like the way it’s stretched at the moment. I know human bodies weren’t made to sit…we’re made to stand. It’s hard on our joints. Have you thought of maybe a warm pack on your knee while sitting to loosen it up a little? (I haven’t read any replies above, so I could be repeating something.)

    • You are absolutely right – we were not built to sit on our butts all day. Nope. It is an awful way to live! I have to get more active during the day even if it’s just doing a spin around the office or something, ANYTHING to get out of this stagnant sitting around stuff all day. not fun.

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