2 weeks! It's been 2 weeks since I last posted.. And 6 weeks since I last ran. The two are related. To some extent there is little news to report: I am still injured and still not running.
One of the things that is so difficult about injury (I’m sure Susan will back me up on this) is that everyone has a different opinion on how to treat you or what would be beneficial for you.
My GP was the first point of call. A man who visibly did not put exercise at the heart of his life, his advice was just to “take it easy”. Whatever that meant. I did cut down on my mileage but it didn’t ease the pain. At all.
So then – in this country – you head into the land of private (ie you pay for it) healthcare. There are physios, osteopath, podiatrists and many other options available. How to choose? In my case, I asked some fellow runners and they recommended physio at the local sports injury clinic.
So I went and started to see a physio. He’s good; he’s very dedicated to getting sports people out on the road. I think his initial prescription for me – strengthening my adductors, stretching out my ITB – was based on a general treatment of knee pain in runners. When I went back last week – the third time – and I could still report no progress he suggested I remove all potential stressors of my knee out of my life for a while. So no high heels and, more importantly, no hills. Somewhat reluctantly I have stopped parking my car at the top of Steep Hill (yup)
every day and walking down to work and am, instead, parking at the bottom of said hill and thus, hopefully, avoiding some of the pressure on my knees. I am wearing mostly flat shoes. We then agreed to meet in the gym that evening so he could see me run on the treadmill. He was very surprised to see that when I run I am, in his words, knockkneed. I overpronate considerably and this causes my knees to come together when I run. When he then had me running wide-legged – I felt like I was running while riding a horse if such a thing is possible – the pain immediately diminished. When I asked him what this meant for my recovery program – ie which exercises I should focus on, he had my focusing on exercises to strengthen my glutes. When I asked for his advice on how to run in this way which was far less painful, his answer was “go slow and steady”. His idea is that I start by running in this new way for 5 minutes each day, and build it up. The problem with this suggestion is a) that I’m still suffering from knee pain and b) that it’s very hard, without guidance, to really change how you run. In addition, in the course of the past week I have slowly become conscious that some of the exercises he is making me do may be contributing to the knee pain which has, if anything, got worse since I stopped running. This may be because I’m not doing the exercises right or it may be that we have not yet completely figured out exactly what it is that is aggravating my knee pain and so have not been able to eliminate it from my life (or exercises). Since Thursday, I have, in fact, stopped doing any of the exercises that I felt were hurting me and (touch wood) my knees feel better.. This is sort of good news – no pain is good news – but I am conscious that his initial advice of strengthening my adductors probably still has validity and I’m not quite sure how to go about it without hurting myself. Another appointment is called for.
Based on this lengthy paragraph above it seems quite clear that my pain is related to how I run. So I somehow need to learn how to run better, in a way that won’t injure me. ChiRunning is an option here and as you know I’m working on this. I’m practising my various focuses and exercises in anticipation of a private training session with Chris Griffin next month.
Another way to change the way you run, however, is orthoses. Now I was quite reluctant to go and see a podiatrist. Everyone who goes to see one seems to leave with 300 pound orthoses. But frustrated by my lack of progress and doubtful about my running future (and upset by my physios repeated comments about going to see a friendly orthopaedic surgeon for arthroscopy) I decided it was worth having a try. A local podiatrist is recommended by our local running shop and my friend Sally has been helped by him so I booked in to see him last Thursday. He found all sorts of peculiar things about the way I walk and move and next Tuesday I am booked in for an afternoon’s session where he films me running on the treadmill, will make a cast of my foot and then will make me orthoses which will correct a variety of the problems he thinks I have. Do I think this will help? Well, I obviously hope so. But based on what everyone else has noted there is clearly some issue with the way I move and on the face of it is seems orthotics would change the way my feet move and would therefore change the way everything else moves. We shall see. At any rate the assessment should be valuable and useful and the orthoses are refundable, should they be no use at all. I will then go back to the physio with my issues with my exercises and see what we can come up with which doesn’t hurt me more. Pile Chris Griffin on to that in a month’s time and hopefully this three pronged approach will do some good…
I have so far not consulted an osteopath or any other practitioner – I am overwhelmed with the range of possible treatment options and not quite sure which road to go down. I think I’ve gone down the physio route long enough to be able to try something alongside it, and we will see where that gets me.
I am trying to be brave about not running – the few swimming lessons I have taken so far have vastly improved my front crawl. The time freed up by not running seems to have been seamlessly swallowed up by work and domestic life – I am very behind in commenting and podcast listening. If I haven’t been to your blog recently – I am getting to it. I promise. I miss you all enormously, and I miss the sense of running alongside you all. I really hope I’ll be back again soon..