Don't power through the pain.
Runners are a unique breed. We wake up at ungodly hours to run. No rain, heat, or wind shall keep us from hitting the pavement. We understand foot architecture and sole pairing like sommeliers understand wine pairing with meals. But when it comes to run-related knee injuries, our mantras of “power through the pain” or “no pain, no gain” are absolutely misguided.
We hate pain. Pain is the S.O.S. that lets us know that something ain’t right. Pain is a signal that something is overused, out of position, or plain ‘ol broke. Sure, if we were being chased by a pack of drooling hyenas, we’d power through our anterior knee pain. As it’s often the case, at 5:30am, it’s just us chasing our daily goal. And so we begrudgingly give up the daily run. After x-rays and knee maneuvers, the know-it-all-intern declares that the reason for the pain we experience when weight bearing on our flexed knee is patellofemoral pain. Don’t worry, we’re assured, it’ll eventually get better, so long as we rest, put some ice, compress it, elevate the legs, and work with physical therapy to strengthen the core and lower body. We can take ibuprofen for pain, but we’d probably want to avoid it over the long run. Just take it easy on your knees, we’re advised (meaning, stop running), and the pain should go away. And oh, if it doesn’t get better, come back in a year or two and consider surgery. What?!!
Our goal is to avoid such nightmare scenarios. Avid runners really do not want to be put out of commission. Ever. We can optimize our chance of preventing patellofemoral pain by working with a physical therapist or licensed trainer before injury. A study conducted among army recruits in the UK found that an exercise program much like that to treat patellofemoral pain may be effective in preventing the development of anterior knee pain. Brilliant! Condition our core and lower body so that they may keep up with our runner’s drive. Whowuddathunkit?
We should work with our licensed therapist for proper core and lower body pre-run exercises for our bodies. No suboptimally conditioned knee, hip, and core shall keep us from hitting the pavement.