“Runner’s Knee” is one of the most painful experiences I have ever had to deal with. I had no idea it was even a thing until it happened to me on a long run two weeks before my second half marathon. The real term for “Runner’s Knee” is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. (Sounds terrible if you ask me!) And from what I was told by my doctors, Runner’s Knee is more common in women than it is in men.
For me, the pain felt like someone was taking the inside of my knee cap and twisting as if I were twisting a wet wash cloth to wring it dry. It hurt to run, it hurt to walk, and it hurt to sit. Nothing was comfortable. You may be wondering what I did to cause this because Runner’s Knee is not something that just develops or happens like calluses on your feet or black toenails from over running, wearing bad shoes or bad socks. So what was my problem? Not stretching! I prefer to run in the mornings and after a run I would feel pressed for time to get ready and go to work. So I just skipped the stretching. Time after time, run after run. I was fairly new to running and what did I know?! Sure I was sore and stiff but it was never enough to make me want to be late for work or breakfast or whatever it was that I was doing after my run.
Thankfully I have a friend who is a physical therapist and the best thing she ever told me: foam roll. Buying a foam roller is one if the best investments you can make if you plan to run a lot and train for races. They aren’t expensive and they are amazing. If you’ve ever had a deep tissue massage you will know the feeling (I have not actually experienced a deep tissue massage - I am a wimp and when I go in for massages I ask the masseuse to go as light as possible on me). Foam rolling hurts at first, but let me tell you from experience, it hurts so good! You basically want to do a deep tissue massage on your thighs (inner and outer – outer for the IT band) and your calves. You can also foam roll other areas of your body too especially if they are tight and sore (back, neck, shoulders, etc), but for runners I highly recommend rolling the legs after a run. A few minutes on each side should be enough. If you find a sore spot feel free to roll it out for longer. Your muscles will thank you! Check out this great video that Runners World posted on all the foam rolling techniques for specific body parts.
Of course stretching is a huge factor as well. As I said earlier, I never did it and I paid the price. Take the extra 5-10 minutes after your run and stretch and foam roll! Yoga For Runners is a great app that Amy turned me onto for post run stretches. I am not a yogi, I am just not built that way, but the app is great and it’s easy and you’ll feel so good after doing it!
Marci is a contributor to The Aloha Files. She is Amy's long-distance training partner and motivator (aka - the one girl who doesn't take any excuse from Amy to NOT run).