A runners’ worst nightmare – knee pain!

One always aims to start a new-year feeling positive and full of ambition to take on new challenges. One of my challenges for this year is to complete the Comrades Ultra Marathon up-run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and get my back-to-back medal. Unfortunately my training so far has been slowed down by a runners’ worst nightmare knee pain.

About three years ago I suffered from ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome). ITBS occurs when the Iliotibial band which runs down the outside of the thigh to the knee is tight and inflamed and causes a pain in the knee. ITBS is a very common overuse injury amongst runners.

In the first week of January this year I started to feel a pain in my knee and upper glute muscle after running. I automatically thought this must be the dreaded ITBS playing up again. So I booked an appointment straight away to visit my physiotherapist who previously helped cure my ITBS. It has now been four weeks of visiting my physiotherapist and then my chiropractor and I am still suffering from knee pain. In the first two and half weeks I was doing a few short 5km runs and my strength exercises for ITBS like clam shells and bridges (click here for 10 strengthening exercises you can do for ITBS) but I have found that two or so hours after the run or exercises the knee pain would come back.

I was advised to stop running completely over the past week and a half and I have just been focusing on stretching, swimming and icing my knee. However, I still have knee pain and a dull ache in my gluteus muscle, which seems to get worse when I am sitting down and not moving.

Last Friday, I saw a sports physician to just get a second opinion on my knee and after having some x-rays and a quick analysis I have been advised that my knee seems to be wearing down and that I need to get my biomechanics checked out. I was also recommended a cortisone injection to help with the inflammation and pain, which I am on the fence about as I have heard that cortisone generally masks the problem at hand. But then again it helps with the pain and it could allow me to get back to running sooner. I am going to have to make a decision on whether or not to go for the injection in the following week.

It has been a really difficult month for me mentally especially as being an endurance athlete I am so used to getting up early in the morning to train. As it is also the new year the gyms, parks and roads are all packed with people running, cycling and trying to stay fit and healthy and there is nothing worse than driving past seeing all this activity that you cannot take part in and so desperately want to. I have also come to realize how important exercise is to my well-being as I honestly have been feeling quite depressed not being able to train but I know I need to try stay positive that I will get back to running stronger and faster once I have recovered.

If anyone has some tips to keep my spirits up on the road to recovery I would love to hear them. I will be keeping this blog post updated on my progress with treating my knee pain and hopefully getting back to training soon.


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