A Runner and Her Injuries

Recently at my physical therapy appointment my doctor gave me some new exercises and also gave me some progressions for exercises I was already doing to heal my back. My goal with PT was to fix my back pain, but more importantly to get back to the activities I love (biking, running, yoga, kettlebells). My therapist said that if you want to run, you should be doing a few specific exercises on a frequent basis.

Want to be a runner and not have to deal with frequent/chronic injury? She said you should be doing the glute bridge exercise and be able to hold a plank for 60 seconds. And maintain those goals. Both exercises will keep your core strong and stabilize your hips during running; in turn it will keep Runner’s Knee and low back pain away. Sold. Sign me up!

I wanted to share what I am currently doing to improve my body. So far the exercises seem to be helping a lot!

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge exercise might sound familiar to you. It’s a yoga move and common in PT. There are so many benefits to this exercise but the biggest one for me is that stronger glutes fix my runner’s knee. Period. It also helps stabilize your core and helps alleviate low back pain. I’ve been given this exercise before but in the past, even though I did it diligently, I never really felt a difference. I mentioned that to my therapist and she suggested this variation:


One simple change– doing it on your heels instead of with your feet flat– made a HUGE difference for me. Suddenly I FELT the exercise in my butt and glutes when I did it this way. This is now the only way I do it. And I feel it after I’m done, too. It’s important to engage your core, tighten your glutes and hold them as you go up and down. If not, you’re not getting the same benefits. I love this move. I feel it the next day! I also found a website with examples of other variations I may try in the future.

One Leg Glute Bridges

This is a variation of the basic glute bridges the physical therapist is having me do. It’s supposed to be harder than the traditional way, and it is! Here is a short video of the demonstration.


Like the regular glute bridge, do it on your heel. When I first tried it at physical therapy I was like, Oh holy moly this is a LOT harder. I sure did feel it! My doc said the leg doesn’t need to be straight out (like the above picture), just raised. The important keys: do it on your heels, engage your pelvic floor while you do it, and then make sure your hips are staying level as you raise them. If you’re twisting the raised hip, you’re not getting the benefits. And probably messing up the low back.

One Leg Romanian Deadlift

I’ve written about this move before. It’s a must for me when I want to keep Runner’s Knee away from my life. It was a regular part of my weight lifting workout for a long time. When I had my back flare up I stopped doing this move (and most weight lifting) and it didn’t take long for my knees to start to act up. 🙁

When my therapist watched me do this exercise the one correction she made was to have me hold the weight (or kettlebell) in one hand instead of holding two. Then put the free hand on the small of your back as you bend over. This helps you to make sure you aren’t raising/twisting your hip as you bend. I was! Granted I usually do the move in front of a mirror to make sure I don’t twist, but it’s easy to twist and then there’s no point in the exercise because you putting strain on your lower back. Good to know!



I know, I know, love/hate relationship right? Planks suck. They are hard. But when you finish doing them you feel accomplished! My therapist suggested doing the plank on the elbows instead of hands (it will be harder that way) and to make sure that you are engaging your core muscles while you hold it otherwise you are putting pressure on your low back. Especially if your back is sagging in any way. I see that a lot in the gym–people doing a plank (side plank, traditional etc) and they are sagging. Do it in front of a mirror if necessary to hold it!



This exercise is one I’ve been given for pretty much every running injury I’ve gotten. This move is supposed to help strengthen your hips. I didn’t always like it because I never really “felt” it. I tried it with a stretchy rubber PT band and that helped a LITTLE bit…but still, didn’t really feel it when I did the exercise. Recently my therapist suggested I try a different way to do it. I hope I can describe it properly…

So same position as the photo below (minus the band). Except instead of having the knees and feet touching, she had me raise the higher leg so it was parallel to the leg resting on the floor and THEN do the clam move. So the legs aren’t actually touching as you do the move, but you’re still doing the same form. If that makes sense? Okay, if it does, good. Because this variation was much better! I could feel the exercise doing it this way.


So far it’s been working. I think the combination of the standing desk and doing the PT exercises during my workouts on a regular basis have helped my back AND my knees! I also started doing the cobra/up-dog yoga stretch after each set of kettlebell swings. It helps a lot!

R is for Runner’s Knee

R is for Runner’s Knee

As promised, this is a post about the physical therapy I’m doing to rehab my knees. My hope is that this Runner’s Knee isn’t a permanent fixture in my life. I know a lot of runners suffer from this and other ailments. I think as a whole all of us could stand to do some strengthening exercises to prevent injuries. I clearly neglected certain parts of my body which led to this current situation (don’t ask me how, I still think it’s weird that all the strength training I did didn’t strengthen the muscles around my knees).

As with every injury I’ve had in the past, I’ve learned how to work around it so I could still be active. This post is about a recent workout that I’ll use as an example of how even while injured, I can still get a quality sweat in and I’ll also share the PT I’m doing.

I started with the bike, very light resistance, and did about 15 minutes of it staying within 80-95 rmps, as the doctor ordered. I felt really good and like I could keep going but I didn’t want to push it so I stopped after 15 minutes. I’m glad I took it easy on the first day so I can continue to do it more often.

After the bike, I spent about 30 minutes working on an ab routine. This is what I did:

And boy did I feel it! I did 30 minutes of the ab exercises and about half way through they were shaking with every move. The next day they were sore, and the day after that! Intense! After the ab exercises, I hit the machines for some upper body exercises (arms and chest mostly).

Physical Therapy Exercises

My physical therapist gave me some advice. He said not to sit with knees bent more than 90 degrees. No running, no squats, no stairs, no breaststroke in the pool. The fact that he cleared me for some like biking is okay by me. At least it’s something. Here are the exercises I’m supposed to do:

Straight Leg Raises

This is for quad strengthening. I rest on my forearms and tighten the inside of my thigh muscle, with opposite knee bent. I life my straight leg 8-10 inches from the ground, keeping the leg straight. My doctor wants me to work up to 75 repetitions! Right now I can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. And I definitely feel them. Eventually I’ll add some weights to my legs.

Quad Stretch

This one is fairly easy for me. It’s a stretch I already do after running. Pull the foot back until the stretch is felt in the front thigh.

Hip or TFL Stretch

This one is weird. I’m supposed to stand, cross one foot over the other and then bend, except when I do it I don’t feel anything. I need to ask the physical therapist about this one.

There is an alternative IT band stretch that I’ve been doing and like a lot. You lay flat on the ground and use a strap or jump rope to assist in the stretch. I put one fit in the strap and with leg straight, stretch it over the other leg with it slightly raised. I definitely feel the IT band stretch with this one.

Sitting Hamstring Stretch

I already do this one in my stretching repertoire.

Straight Leg Raise with External Leg Rotation

This is just like the other straight leg exercise but I’m laying flat on the ground and I’m supposed to turn one leg out while I lift it. Also, the other leg is flat on the ground. This one is a lot harder to do than the first leg raise.

Hip Abduction

This one is also easy for me. I could do 50 of these before I feel anything. I lay on my side with the leg that’s on the ground bent, then the top leg is straight. I tighten my thigh muscles and lift the leg. Doctor’s orders: 10-20 times per side and 1-2 sets each session.

Hip Adduction

This one is fun but a challenge. I can barely do two in a row. It’s similar to the above hip exercise except with this one, the leg on the floor is straight, the top leg is bent over it and the leg underneath is the one I raise. It’s HARD. It hurts!

Despite not being able to run, I still got in a great workout. I worked my abs, I did all of my physical therapy exercises and I also had time for the weight lifting machines. I am no stranger to injury and while it’s very maddening and if you’re like me and lack patience…being sidelined for a long time is frustrating. But try and find ANY activity that you can do to stay active. It will definitely help your mood while you recover!

QUESTION: Have you seen a physical therapist for an injury? What improvements did you see with the exercises?

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