ITB syndrome

So…About that Runner’s Knee…

….I’s got itz.

Yeah. It sucks. Goddamn runner’s knee. The bane of every runner. The curse of many people who, like me, are blessed with fantastic genetics (sarcasm) and have knee issues. My brother kindly reminded me that our Grandpa had horrible knee issues (they were replaced several times I think) and so do a few aunts. This is something I need to be mindful of. Knees. You Suck.

So let me back up.

About a month ago I had my annual physical and asked my doctor about the weird knee issues I’d been having. I told her that every once in awhile I have a weird feeling in my knees where it’s like bone-on-bone grinding. It’s been a sporadic and random pain. I’ve experienced it most obviously during some hiking excursions and the descent down a mountain has not been a pleasant feeling. I also had an intense inflammation in my kneecaps after spin class last winter–again SPORADIC. It wasn’t every time, it wasn’t even once a week. It was weird and sometimes painful and I’d ice my knees and take Advil like it was candy. I never gave it much thought because it wasn’t happening very often and in general I felt really good physically. Also the reason why I’ve never really mentioned it on the blog.

I told my doctor about it and asked if I needed to get an MRI or something, or if I should be concerned. She quickly diagnosed me with runner’s knee(aka Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome). She said that it was inflammation in the tissues on the kneecap and since it wasn’t a pain I experienced all the time, she dismissed it. She told me to strengthen my quads (which I found weird considering I bike, swim, hike, run, and lift weights–aren’t my quads strong enough?!?!). I forgot about the conversation because I wasn’t currently having any noticeable knee issues.

I did the Salem metric century and felt AWESOME. Felt great afterward. I was surprised, in fact, that I didn’t have more soreness or fatigue or aches. Then two days later I get the bright idea to go for a run at the gym. I barely did 3 miles and knew that my knees were not happy campers.

I iced my knees after my run and went to bed. I woke up the next morning, they felt back to normal, and then did the 1.75 mile walk across the bridge to work like I do almost every day and half way across the bridge my knees flared up. Yep. They were angry. I spent the rest of the day in discomfort. It hurt to stand. It hurt to sit. It wasn’t excruciating pain, it was more annoying and troublesome than “oh my god this HURTS.” It’s hard to describe.

After work I went to the pool thinking it would help. I started swimming freestyle, my knees aching, and then quickly decided it was time to give my knees a rest. I used the buoy so that I didn’t have to kick or use my legs at all and just got an upper body workout. It was a nice swim, I felt good in the water, I was happy that I could kind of unwind in the pool. I swam 1 mile in 37 minutes, strictly freestyle, and then sat in the hot tub forever. Iced when I got home. Crossed my fingers the inflammation was going down. Took more Advil. Tried to distract myself with TV shows. I need to rest.

Part of me wants to tighten the reigns, reduce my calories, be mindful of what I’m eating, make those hard choices that suck (“Yes, I’ll pass on dessert tonight” and “no thanks, just water for me”)…and the other voice in my head is saying “Honey, you’ve been here before and you did NOT gain weight when you had to stop running. In fact, you lost weight.”

I think there is a happy medium in there somewhere. Yes, I need to be a little more mindful of my calories. But, I know I can do some activities while I let my knees heal, however long that is. I can lift weights (upper body only) and swim and be as content as can be (been there, done that).

I’m trying to look at this situation as not a permanent, heartbreaking thing like how I felt with my ITB injury two years ago. When that happened and my doc said stop running for two months, I fell into a depression that lasted about two weeks and I pulled myself out of it by starting to lift weights. I’m hoping that this time around I have the skills to NOT slip into that depression and stay positive as I heal. I could definitely use some encouraging words, if you’ve experienced this and came out a winner! 

The plan right now is to take a break from running and the bike. I’m actually ok with taking a break from cycling because I did it so much this summer. I’m ready for a change. I am bummed about the running. I was kind of looking forward to making the switch to that this fall.

QUESTION: Tell me some good stories of healing!

Losing Faith

I’m beginning to lose faith in Western and Eastern Medicine.

I had another follow-up appointment with a sports medicine doctor this morning. The guy I was seeing left the practice so I had to see a new person today. I was okay with that because second opinions are never a bad thing.

She went through my history, my injury, what I’ve been doing to rehab it and she gave me some new exercises I can do specifically for my IT band. That’s cool…but other than that it was yet another waste of time in my opinion.

I’d finally decided to be opened minded about a cortisone shot. Last visit my doc and I discussed it as an option in the future if I didn’t improve. I was wary but open to it. I’d gotten a cortisone shot in my ankle years ago and it gave me 9 pain-free months.

For the last month since my knee flared-up again I’ve remained at 3 miles only when I run and not running fast. I’ve been okay with that. At least it’s running. And at least my pain is minimal. But I want to get back to bike riding (seriously) and I want to be able to hike again.

The sports doc I saw this morning didn’t think a cortisone shot was a good idea. I got upset. I felt like I had wasted sick time at work to go in and pay for an office visit to get the same handouts on how to stretch. Seriously?

And another thing–if I have one more doctor DISMISS me and my injury as a “Oh you’re 31 and a runner? That’s why” I am going to officially lose it. That is NOT okay. That is NOT a diagnosis. Don’t dismiss, practice medicine and help me.

I expressed my frustration with her (and others) dismissing my injury because of my age. I saw there is NO reason that at 31–in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE–I should just settle for the “I’m old and my body is going to hurt” thing. That’s not acceptable to me. She said that it’s not necessary the age but the wear and tear of the body by a the 30’s…like professional athletes who retire at 36 because of injuries. As much as I work out I am nowhere near a professional athlete and there’s no way my body is just breaking down at 31 because of that. Ridiculous argument. Should I just quit everything and get a WALKER?

She did say one leg is a little longer than the other and could be causing my problems. After a bunch of testing she sent me home with a 3 millimeter heel lift in my left shoe. I hope that helps because I’m done with these appointments.

If Western Medicine and Eastern Medicine is out…is there a third option? I’m ready to try something else!

Rewinding a bit…Before my doctor appointment I went to the gym for another AM workout. It was a lovely experience. I “slept in” until 6:15 or so, had a few bites of plain Greek yogurt and headed to the gym. It was dark, freezing cold out and my car was covered in ice but it was a nice experience. The place was empty and I ran a faster 3 miles than normal and shaved about 4 or 5 minutes off my time.

After my run (it was pain free so I am blessed in that aspect) I did some core work and then had plenty of time to lift weights. I wasn’t rushed like I was last week during my morning workout.

It was nice and casual; a stress-free experience. I enjoyed my tunes and wasn’t worried about the time.

Gym Stats:

Time: 1:23

Calories Burned: 609

I headed home and made a Power Breakfast. I was determined to not be starving all day like last week.

Power Breakfast:

2 Scrambled Eggs with a splash of 1% milk

1/2 serving of shredded Colby Jack cheese

1 serving black beans

Chopped green onion

Pinch of Cumin

I didn’t take a photo of it because it was a REALLY unattractive color. I think it was the black beans that turned the eggs such an unappealing shade but I don’t want to share that with you. The bottom line: the breakfast worked. I was full and satisfied all morning until I got to work at noon.

I was alert all morning, not groggy or tired and didn’t need coffee. The morning workouts are kind of a bonus I think. I LOVED working out at the gym when it wasn’t packed, loud and annoying. I wish I was a morning person….

I’m trying to be positive. The positives are that I can run 3 miles. If I never run more than that, I guess that’s how it will be. At least I can do some. Another positive: I had a great workout and now have my evening free to do whatever I want (marathon of Big Love perhaps?)!

QUESTION: What’s something you are losing faith in lately?