A key part of running is knowing how to listen to your body. When it's time to slow down, speed up, continue to run through pain and when to stop. You may not know at first what's small aches and pains you can run through and what you should stop yourself before it gets too serious. Every person is a bit different. For me I experience a pain in my knee it's not an overwhelming pain but I can definitely feel it as I run. But I've gotten used to having this small twitch in my knee (usually it's my left knee). Where as when I started to run early on with a wrong pair of shoes I had a pain on my Achilles. Turns out after resting it for two weeks it was totally fine again however if I had kept running on it, I could have done some long term harm. There are some knee injuries that are there but aren't long term and are more about conditioning your body to getting used to running. Today I will focus on some common knee pains you may incur early on. According to coolrunning.com some typical knee pains will include:
Runners knee: This occurs when your body get around 40 miles a week if it's never run before you will experience these pains around your knee cap area sometimes behind your knee cap. Even after taking a few days off, the pain seems to come right back, sometimes even intensifying, after the first few miles of the next run. The pain often feels worst when running downhill or walking down stairs. The test for runner's knee: sit down and put your leg out on a chair so that it's stretched out straight. Have a friend squeeze your leg just above the knee while pushing on the kneecap. Have your friend push from the outside of the leg toward the center. At the same time, tighten your thigh muscle. If this is painful, you've got runner's knee.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Pain on the outside of your knee (not usually accompanied by swelling or locking). The pain may be sporadic and disappear with rest, only to reoccur suddenly, often at the same point in a run. Depending on the individual, this could happen at four miles, two miles or just 200 yards. The pain often goes away almost immediately after you stop running. The cause is that this is an overuse injury. The iliotibial band is a band of tissue that begins at the outside of the pelvis and extends to the outside part of the knee. The band helps stabilize the knee. If it becomes too short, the band rubs too tightly on the bone of your leg and becomes irritated. The tightness is usually the result of too much strain from over training. So what you can do to prevent or reduce this? Patience. This one takes a while. Give yourself plenty of rest, reduce your miles and ice frequently. You can keep running, but cut your run short as soon as you begin to feel any pain. Cut way back on hill work, and be sure to run on even surfaces. Look into some deep friction massage with a physical therapist. Patience. This one takes a while. Give yourself plenty of rest, reduce your miles and ice frequently. You can keep running, but cut your run short as soon as you begin to feel any pain. Cut way back on hill work, and be sure to run on even surfaces. Look into some deep friction massage with a physical therapist.
You will typically have an instinct on when you need to slow down your running and what's acceptable pain. If you are at all like me, who's never really run before (regardless of body type) start with smaller mileage, go at your own pace and don't worry about mile times. You should enjoy your running. It's meant to be fun, and a way for you to do something for you. Next week I'll focus on other types of injuries you can face, but for now this is a good spot to begin. Remember run and have fun but go at a good pace for you, not what your friends can do, and listen to your body!