Time has been flying faster than I've been running lately.
First, to update on the most exciting news: $300 raised for Camp Ooch and counting! That's one lucky kid going to this amazing camp! Here's the link if you want to help send another!
In other exciting news, my left knee no longer sounds like bubble wrap. Generally my right knee is happy, but its buddy, not so much. Proof I've been doing my pre-hab!
I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful therapists almost daily, one of which gave me a few specific exercises for my pre-hab (that's getting back into running to prevent the need for rehab) that I'll share with you. These are a super common condition that I see a lot in both runners and walkers alike, and it often doesn't mean you "have bad knees". If you use your legs, you might be prone to either of these conditions.
Pain at the outside of your knee = Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
This means you have a weak bum, specifically glute medius, which stabilizes the pelvis during any locomotion. This I see often in both runners and walkers of all shapes and sizes. Try standing on one foot and raising your opposite hip up to the sky. If it feels sore or weak, get the bum working!
~ Side-walks with a resistance band
~ Squats with your bum waaaaaaay behind you
These are all easy to google or YouTube to get an idea. Do each exercise slowly and in control. If you can only do 2, that's okay to start. Remember, you're trying to correct imbalances and this requires some attention to detail. Some tips:
~ Keep your resistance band by the TV so you can strengthen while catching up on The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.
~ Remember that it only takes about 5 minutes total. Really, it's not that long.
~ Foam roll the IT band whenever you can. This is harder because it hurts more. Foam rollers are pretty cheap, or throw a thick sock over a tomato can.
Pain behind the knee cap = Patellofemoral Syndrome (aka Runners' Knee)
This often means you have an imbalance between the quadriceps (thigh) muscles and need to strengthen the inner aspects, specifically the vastus medialis, or VMO, so that the kneecap can glide smoothly over the femur rather than crunching along in it's own little path. This little muscle fires when the knee is in it's last 20-degrees or so of extension so it often gets neglected. Over time, this can lead to patellar chondromalacia which is the softening of the cartilage behind the knee cap and the cause of the snaps, crackles, and pops in my case. I've had this since I was a kid... better late than never to correct it, I guess!
~ Static lunge with the front foot pointed outward 30-45 degrees. Static meaning keep both feet on the ground at all times. Slowly sink down into lunge position and let the front leg carry most of the weight. You'll be able to feel the VMO bulge out a bit on the inside of the thigh, just above the kneecap.
Slow and steady and with correct form, it shouldn't crackle at all. Eventually, as I'm living proof, you can sneak up or down stairs without any warning! Happy locomoting!
I challenge myself... a lot.