Admittedly, I had been putting off seeing my longtime doctor, but last week I finally visited paid her a visit to ask about the knee pain that has been plaguing me off and on since late January. I explained that I had severely scaled back my weekly mileage, but I still felt discomfort in that left knee during and after runs, especially when going downhill or down stairs. She tested my reflexes and immediately had me lay my left leg flat, took my kneecap in between her fingers, and gave it a nice painful jiggle before declaring, “I know what’s wrong!”
Apparently, the pain I have been experiencing is – drum roll please – chondromalacia patella, or patellofemroal syndrome. Basically, each kneecap is tracking over the low end of my thigh bone, causing pain as a result of the the softening and breakdown of the tissue on the underside of the kneecap. Chondromalacia patella is one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain and is especially common in women (sexist). Please allow this stock image that I found while Google-Imaging “chondromalacia patella” to replicate my frustration at this diagnosis.
I realize that this is not the end of the world and things could be much much worse, but seeing as how centaur surgery is not an option, it’s time to make a few major changes.
I need to start physical therapy to start strengthening my quad muscles in a big way, and I need to start taking cross training seriously. We just joined a gym, so swimming, spending time on the elliptical, strength training and spinning are all on my agenda. Once Sunday’s race is over and done with, I will more than likely be taking a few weeks off from running to focus on the aforementioned activities, and I actually am looking forward to it.
While a few weeks off will be nice, I don’t want to give up running completely, so icing, anti-inflammatory meds, and foam rolling will have to become my BFFs. I will also continue wearing patella-guiding knee supports on both knees when I run. They aren’t the most comfortable or attractive things, but for the most part, they seem to get their correcting job done. KT Tape will be at the Georgia Half Marathon Expo this weekend, and I’m planning on picking their brains about patellar taping as well.
This month marks my one-year runniversary, and while it is both mentally and physically frustrating to hit this speed bump, I am relieved to finally have both a name and a solution to an ongoing problem; when all else fails, I try to remember this image.
At the end of the day, I still have two (kind of) working legs and the freedom that full-body mobility provides, and that is a gift I should never ever take for granted.
What are your favorite motivational sayings to get you through an injury or a running rut?