It's All in the Knees

Finally, I am at the half way point for my marathon in November, meaning I ran 13 miles this past weekend. It was the longest distance I have run since my half marathon in January with Megan and Jen (check out their blogs too!). After that first half marathon, the knee pain I experienced was excruciating and lasted for days. It felt like my joints were those of a 90 year old and even the smallest movements caused pain and tenderness. So, how do you take care of your knees doing a marathon, when you are likely to take 26,000 or more strides within those 26.2 miles? Surprisingly, it isn't all in the knees!

One of the biggest parts of your body may be to blame. Your thigh muscles must be set and trained to perform at high standards. They must be strong and able to hold your knees in the proper place. That means you MUST weight train, focusing on the quads and hamstrings. With running, you will find that your hamstrings will become stronger, but if you ignore your quads, there will be an imbalance and that can cause problems. Therefore, add squats and lunges to your weight routine. If your using machines, leg presses and extensions are two other options. I personally like free weights since you know both of your quads are working hard rather than one picking up slack for another.

Another problem is that you may be in the wrong shoe. I'm an overpronater, meaning the outside of my heel strikes first, then my foot rolls inward too much. With this, shock isn't absorbed right and pain is therefore felt, especially in the knees. Other people are underpronaters (supinators), and many are normal. The best thing to do is to go to a professional shoe store and let them observe your stride to find the perfect fit. Shoes have made such a difference for me!

When I was 4, I broke my leg at McDonald's. Not just broke, but really snapped it. I was on the playground, got my foot caught in a crevice, turned sharply, and spiral broke tibia. The break went right through. Luckily I was little and able to recover without extensive surgery, but I did spend my 5th birthday in a wheelchair.

During high school, the injury showed up again. I was running 4 and 800s in track and didn't stop when shin splints started to be felt. It ended in me running a 400 during a meet, collapsing on the side of the track, and limping to my mom's car that had been pulled around to the field. I had a full-blown stress fracture on the same spot my break over ten years had occurred, one that required 2 months of rest and a splint. Freshman year of college I had another stress fracture in my femur. The doctor said that he had never seen that before. From then on I tried to tune in more to my body when it started hurting.

Obviously, I have to be more careful, and so far I have. I've added more weight training, acquired the proper shoes (I love my Brooks Ravenna 2), and gradually increased my mileage (1 mile per week). Losing weight is also another option. Each pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off your knees. Let's just hope my body stays together for the next 2 1/2 months! As a side note, I've added additional pages to my blog (look up) that list things to do and places to go. Check 'em out!

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