Those that have been following this blog know that I have been struggling as of late with some “on again, off again” knee pain (located on the inner part of my right knee). A while back I went to a doctor who advised me to take up rowing instead. Yeah, right. How does that help me qualify for Boston? After months of trying to ignore the pain, I finally went to see a PT and was told that I had some chronic hamstring inflammation. He gave me a simple stretch to do three times a day and recommended that I ride a stationary bike on shorter recovery days instead of run.
Lo and behold, the pain went away. After two weeks of this (and probably cycling just a little too hard) however, a new knee pain presented itself on the outside of my knee. I did a little research, found a stretch for ITBS, and within a couple of days everything was back to normal.
After certain types of runs, the knee becomes more aggravated than others. Striders tend to not agree with me, and VO2Max runs can cause a little tenderness, however, these two stretches have changed my running life. No longer am I running in fear of hurting my knee. No longer am I worried that my knee won’t hold up under the pressure of training for Smuttynose. These two simple stretches, have changed the ballgame for me. Just earlier this week, I went out for a 20 miler. I ended up running nearly a minute faster per mile than I had planned (and a mere 26 seconds per mile slower than my planned marathon pace), a sure recipe for knee pain. Guess what? Nothing. No pain. No tenderness. Nothing.
This is what I posted on dailymile just a few days ago explaining the stretches:
So the two stretches are a hamstring stretch and an ITB stretch. The hamstring stretch is done in a chair where your feet can touch the ground. To stretch your right hammy, bend left leg to 90°, foot flat, and extend right leg out, heel on the ground, toes pointed at 45° angle away. Bend at the hips (NOT the waist or back) and hold for 30 – 45 seconds. For the ITB, take the right leg and rest ankle on left knee. Place your left hand under the right ankle, right hand under the right knee. Now lift up and to the left. You should feel a stretch in the ITB up to your butt. Hold for 30 – 45 second. Now you may be asking, what the heck do my hammy and my itb have to do with my knee pain. Well, for me the chronic hamstring inflammation and the mild ITBS were/are causing inflammation at the ends of the tendons which attach themselves, you guessed it, at and below the knee…my pain was in the back left of the right knee and on the right side of my right knee.
So that’s it. Two stretches that have changed my running life, at least for now. Short term, they have been nothing short of a miracle. The verdict is still out on the long term, only because I really only started these stretches a few weeks ago. Still, if the way my knee felt after a pretty fast-paced (for me) 20 miler is any indication, I’m keeping these stretches in the arsenal.