Friday, July 8, 2011

Knee Knobs and Foam Sticks

So I have this really strange least it is strange to me because it is not one of your run of the mill running injuries (that I know of), such as tendonitis, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome...etc.  This we shall call the knee knob.  I believe the knee knob was acquired during the 50 mile trail run I did last October.  Around mile 37 I took a hard fall, landing with my body weight and my running momentum all on my right knee.  For the first few seconds, I thought I would need to be medically evacuated by helicopter from those woods...but it passed.  I was skinned and bloodied, but I was still able to finish the run.

Ta da!
I did not notice the knee knob until sometime in December when I was shaving my legs and compared the right knee knob to the left knee knob.  There was a considerable and somewhat alarming difference between the two.  I'd been running on it since the trail run, and there had been some discomfort, but it usually loosened up around the first half mile and I was fine after that. So I kept running.  I didn't realize there was a knot there.  It is only noticeable when my knee is bent.  It juts out farther than it should, but even then if you don't know knees, you might not notice it.

I showed it to Jason and he wasn't sure what it was.  I showed it to my friend, Shannon, who is a physical therapist, and she hadn't seen anything like it.  I trained for and ran a PR marathon in February on it, and it didn't seem any worse for the wear so...I kept running.

Eventually, however, the pain began to escalate.  It would still calm down after about a half mile, but the pain during that first half mile slowly became more intense and began to linger a bit longer.  I went to see a sports doctor who took x-rays and told me it was a calcium deposit that forms on a bone that has taken a trauma.  She said to keep my IT band, and the muslces around it loose, because they ran right by it, but that in and of itself, it should not hurt me.  She said I could keep doing what I was doing.  I happily skipped down the stairs and out of her office believing myself to be in the clear.  It would heal eventually.  These things just take time.

Well, we are sneaking up on a year.  A year of the knee knob and this has me worried.  The pain is pretty intense now, and when I sit for long periods of time or first get out of bed, it is pretty rough.  This is not super motivating at 5:00 am when I want to get out and run.  The promise of pain with those first steps is not something I look forward to, and now I have to stop, stretch and rub in the first mile to be able to continue.

The only thing I know to do is what the doctor told me.  I've got to get that leg loose.  I know my IT band is insanely tight because the entire span of my leg is tender to the touch.  I see my massage therapist twice a month for an hour long torture session and despite how often I try to steal the strange purple tool of pain she uses on my IT band, she always catches me. 

I don't need to wait for an appointment with her, however, to inflict pain upon myself and my stretching delinquency.  I have my very own tool of torture and it is called the foam roller. 

The foam roller can be your very best friend and feel heavenly IF the spot you are rolling is in good working order.  If it is not... just remember to breathe.  It takes all I have to place the side of my leg on that roller and roll slowly back and forth.  I make faces, moan, Chance checks on me only to be told he has to move, and I try to breathe.  I chastise myself for getting into this position in the first place.  Running is great.  Running far is wonderful.  But if you don't tend to the body you are using so thoroughly, it will eventually revolt.

Mine is in revolt.

I plan to ice, but I have not gotten around to it yet.  I've considered an Ibuprofen regimen for a few days in order to get any inflammation down and on its way to healing (I'm just not sure if that is harmful to other parts or not).  I've increased my stretching, shortened my runs (somewhat and grudgingly), and incorporated the foam roller (I feel like that should have horror music playing in the background while Dracula reads those words aloud).

I'm also trying to focus more on my diet, and eat what I consider to be healing foods (mostly fruits and veggies...blueberries...Greek yogurt...things I come up with in my head that seem healing...Hershey bars...).

It is a tad disheartening as I look back at this time last year.  Training so unsuspectingly for my first 50 mile ultra.  Hitting high mileage each week, injury free and feeling great (somewhat tired, but great).  Doing triathlons for fun amidst all that was a great summer.  I want this one to be great too.  I've just got to take care of the knee knob.


  1. Sorry about that knee, Jane. It sure looks bad in person too. I hope it will go awy or at least quit giving you grief!

  2. Thank you, my friend. I think I just need to give it more TLC and less time running...unfortunately.

  3. Yes, the knee knob was pretty shocking when I first saw it :) Sorry it's still bothering you. You can come over and do foam roller with's my new best friend. We can groan and complain together and call it a party! I also have a plunger that my quads and IT band love (works great)!

  4. Ha! I've heard about you and your plunger! Can we watch a good movie or something while we roll and moan? Will there be snacks? ;)

  5. So sorry to hear you are suffering with your "knee knob" problem. Makes me wonder how on earth you have continued to do all you do. That last sentence comes from a lady who has been dealing with plantar fasciitis since last October and has hardly exercised because of it ... not good!! Have you had to deal with "PF" and do you have any suggestions for me, "running lady?"

  6. Hi Mrs. Lori. PF is a BEAR! Mom has had it, and several friends have as well. Massage works wonders, but it is not pleasant. I would work on Mom's feet a lot and get my little thumbs up in there. It hurts, but it breaks up the gritty stuff (I have no idea what it is) and helps with healing. Ice works too, and if you can stick your foot in ice water - that is good. I can hardly stand that so I just sit it on an ice pack.

    Stretching your calves helps as well. After a walk, when they are warmed up, stretch each one for 30 seconds a few times a day.

    They also sell these socks you can sleep in that holds your foot up, so it does not point and get stiff in that position. That makes getting out of bed easier (I hear that is the worst time with PF).

    I sure hope that gets well and SOON!

  7. Thanks, Jane! I have done a lot of these things and know that stretching is the key. I do some but need to do more! I've also iced some but only when it is hurting the most. I've had PT treatments which gave me great massages but my regular massage therapists are reluctant to get in there and "dig." Do you have a link to the "socks?" I've tried one solution like that but it wasn't a sock ... couldn't sleep with it at all!

    Take care of that knee!

  8. I sent you the link in a facebook message. I have no idea how comfortable it is but a lot of runners around here use it to deal with PF. Maybe it will help!

    Oh, and the knee is getting better. I have to do my foam roller every night but it works wonders!!!