I am currently recovering from the worse injury I’ve ever had from running. It’s been more than 6 weeks. I have told this story in another post, so be sure to read that first. This injury happened on February 2, Super Bowl Sunday.
Finishing a run that you know you just made a moderate injury worse is not a good feeling. When this happened to me, the question in my mind was, how bad did I make my injury. With 6 weeks prior to the first marathon I would ever attempt, I felt that I needed a fairly aggressive treatment plan to ensure I would be able to run the marathon. So I called my orthopedist and got an appointment very quickly. He said it seemed like a case of IT band syndrome and just rest a few days, followed by a run in a few days. What a relief….if only he had been right. I did as he said and tried to run a few days later. That did not work out so well, however, and I winded up running just 0.18 miles before feeling knee pain. I was very concerned at that point.
By the next week, I started physical therapy and went about 9 times. I did all sorts of stretches and strengthening exercises during that time and still do now. They also did ultrasound and electric stimulation while icing, but none of this seemed to help and my knee just seemed to be getting worse.
By this time, I was pretty sure there was no way I would be able to run a full or half marathon. My orthopedist ordered an MRI and a follow up visit later that week. I found out that I did not tear any ligaments or a meniscus. There was some inflammation under the patella, so I got a cortisone shot. My knee has not bothered me since, but I am also not running on it a lot yet. This was just a couple weeks ago.
My current plan is to make a slow comeback. Although I would like to run a half in May 2014, I don’t think I should try to train yet. I am continuing with stretches and strengthening exercises on a daily basis. Below are more details about what I’m doing to return to running.
1. New Shoes. I needed new shoes. That’s why I purchased the ones that ultimately contributed to my injury and since then returned them to the store. After talking with some friends, I began to get interested in minimalist running but was concerned about transitioning. I’ll post more about minimalist running later. I chose Altra zero drop shoes.
2. Foam Rolling/resistance band. I am continuing a number of physical therapy exercises at home that are designed to strengthen the glutes, quads, and hip muscles. In addition I am doing leg presses at the gym and lifting for quad strength as well. The foam roller is an absolute must for any runner.
3. Running short distances. I started coming back from injury by running very short distances such as a half mile combined with some walking. I’m the beginning it was all walking and no running. But I have gradually added more running and less walking until I reached a mile of all running. Now I am up to 2 miles, but it is a very gradual process with plenty of rest days.
4. Resist the urge to do too much too soon. It is a common mistake runners make. I would love to go out and try to run 5 miles tomorrow, but doing so would be a mistake and possibly another setback. The minimalist shoes have kept me from doing this.