If you recall a previous post several months ago, I really messed up my right knee right after we got back from vacation in March. It had already been bothering me a bit, and then after sitting on the porch one day with Buddy on my lap for an hour or so (putting pressure on my knee cap) I got up and had excruciating pain under my kneecap.
I thought at first that it would be temporary, but the pain was persistent and kept me walking with a limp, sometimes to the point where it would just give out while I was trying to walk or come down stairs. Finally after an MRI, I was diagnosed with Runners’ Knee – a common, but nasty condition where the cartilage under the kneecap has worn down and the kneecap keeps moving out of the groove where it’s supposed to be.
The only remedy is time and therapy, strengthening the ligaments and muscles around the area and allowing the tissues to recover. I was making great progress with it after a couple of months, and then one day twisted it just right and felt like I was back to square one.
The frustration at wanting to run and not being able to is excruciating and infuriating. I have to admit to feeling a range of emotions because of it – depression, anger, and even resignation that I might as well give up the whole diet and exercise thing because if I can’t exercise, the diet has to be really strict for me to maintain my lower weight. It’s really hard to watch the scale creep up when you know how to make it go back down, but can’t physically do it. Fortunately, E.J. and I counsel each other regularly on this journey, so when I hit this roadblock, he hit the Internet, looking for ways to help me “adapt and overcome”.
First, he bought me a good exercise bike. Fortunately the bike allowed me to get my heart rate up, and strengthen the muscles around the knee without the damaging impact. I’ve been doing 30 minutes on the bike 3 times a week for the last couple of months to ensure I still get some cardio exercise, but I just don’t get the sense of satisfaction that I get from running. First, it’s hard to stay in the same place going nowhere for 30 minutes, and 2nd, it just doesn’t get my whole body moving like running does.
Then most recently, he bought me a new knee brace. I’ve actually tried at least 3 different ones since the initial injury, trying to find one that was flexible enough to move in, stayed in place, supported the kneecap, and breathable enough to wear all day. He found a bunch of people on Reddit who had my same injury who recommended a specific brace and patella strap set that’s only $8 that they swear by. Well, after wearing the brace comfortably for about 2 weeks, I can now officially say it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Not only did the pain go away when I walk, I can wear heeled shoes again all day at work, go down stairs without wincing, and this morning, for the first time since March, I went out and did running and power walking intervals for 20 minutes… and I’m walking without pain afterward. I’m so excited to feel like I’m finally getting back to where I want to be physically. Obviously, I need to baby it for the next few days so I don’t overdo it too quickly, but I’m looking forward to trying a few more intervals over the next few weeks on my way back to a 5k.
Moral of the story: Don’t let injury, vacation splurges, or anything else get in the way of your long term goals. Accept your situation, whatever it is, and keep trying to find a strategy that works for your specific circumstance… and when it changes, be flexible enough to “adapt and overcome”!