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I am a new runner and this is my first post...please excuse the length...
I am a 38 year old woman who started running 2 months ago. Being about 10-15 pounds overweight, and having not worked out regularly for 10 years, I started slow....at first, alternating running and walking a quarter mile each for one mile and then gradually going from there until the last two times I ran I did 1.75 miles without stopping. And I do not run very fast....I was at maybe a 12 minute mile when I stopped. As I said, this was over the course of two months, 3-4 times a week. I'd say 65% of my running was on a soft track, the rest on sidewalks and streets.
About 4 weeks ago I started having pain in both knees...mostly my right. Over the three weeks after the pain started, it got increasingly worse, especially in my inner right knee. I stopped running a week ago, went to the doctor, had an MRI...AND HAVE STRESS FRACTURES IN BOTH KNEES.....AFTER ONLY 2 MONTHS OF RUNNING!!!! I also have "runner's knee" in both knees. The MRI report says the stress fractures are early and in the medial femoral condyle. The doctor says the runner's knee is not classic as it was caused by the stress fractures. (????????? - confusing!)
My doctor says the only cure is rest and time. OK, fine. He was reluctant to give me PT. He says no knee braces, no orthotics, nothing. I've read a lot about this....can't poor core strength and/or weak thighs contribute to this? I've read one leg shorter than the other can contribute...I have that (due to scoliosis). ALSO - I had surgery on my right foot 7 years ago to remove bone spurs (that are growing back) and do not have full range of motion in my right big toe. Can't that be part of the problem? But the doctor says none of this matters. Just rest and time.
I realize I might not be the best candidate for running, but I got hooked!!! I really don't enjoy working out, so finding that I really enjoy running - and actually being motivated to do it - is a HUGE deal for me! I've tried so many things but it's the running that I really loved! I want to keep doing it!
My doctor is leaving me feeling very frustrated, as is the situation - can anyone offer any advice?
Well, the doctor is right, time and rest are the only ways to heal stress fractures. PT won't help and could, conceivably, make it worse. It's basically the same cure as an actual fracture. Some take longer than others to heal, typically in the neighborhood of 8 weeks but sometimes longer. I can see the runner's knee and the stress fractures' being related. But you're right that there are other things that might contribute, and you listed some. The problem is you can't really work on those things until the stress fractures heal. You also mentioned several things that can affect your stride/footplant (leg length, foot surgery). I would think that proper selection of shoes is very important for you, possibly with a heel lift to correct for the leg length discrepancy. Even so, healing the stress fractures comes before you can realistically work on any of this. Patience is your biggest asset right now.
Thank you, Len! I appreciate your advice, especially in re: to stride/footplant and sneaker selection. So easy to be patient with others, so difficult to be patient with myself...
Very sorry you are dealing w/this! My unexpert thoughts are that perhaps it was too much, too fast, too soon. From zero to 1.75 miles in 2 months may have been the deal breaker, even slowly. After your knees are healed, try scaling back, like running 30 seconds, walking 4:30 minutes, for 5 or 6 sets, but only 2-3 times a week. Do that for 2 weeks. Then up your run time by 30 seconds, cut back on your walk time; do that 2 weeks, only 2-3 times a week. You get the idea. It may seem like forever to get any time built up, but given the history, that may help. At this early point in your running life, forget about speed, that can come later. Then on your non running days, do some cross training, like bike riding or swimming. Jeff Galloway's run/walk philosophy is awesome and you can find him online. In the meantime, double check your shoes that they are the right kind for your gait, overpronation, arch type, etc. If you have access to a running store where the employees are runners themselves, consult w/them for advice on the proper shoe for you. Best of luck and take care to get those knees back on track!
I this is my first post on this site so we're in the same boat Congratulations on finding an exercise activity you enjoy! I'm sorry to hear about your aches and pains. Being the complete and utter antitheist of a running expert I offer the following:
1st - Take the shoes you run in to the local specialty store and ask for their advice. I used to run in what I thought were good running shoes and it turns out they were horrible (hence my "runners knee" and plantar factitious). Anywho, that would be my first step - especially since you have plenty of free time now
2nd - Look at how you lace your shoes; it's been my experience that poorly laced shoes (e.g. too loose) can cause all sorts of problems - even if you have the right shoes. The shoe store rep should be able to show you how to lace your shoes to provide for support, comfort, etc.
3rd - Don't go cheap on the shoes. You certainly don't need the $135 pair that just came out. Find something in the mid-range ($50-70). I love my Asics 2130s; although I'm about to move up to the 2140s ($100). Oh, and check the shoes you spend most of your workday in. I have dress shoes that actually cause pretty severe back pain. I had attributed the pain to lack of muscle, poor mattress, long commute, etc. but once I switched to another pair of dress shoes, my pain has all but dissipated.
4th - Since you don't have PT exercises to do, consider adding a light stretching regimen into your daily routine (workout or not). NOTE: I AM NOT A DOCTOR, I AM NOT A PHYSICAL THERAPIST, if you have stress fractures stretching might not be the best thing - I don't know. Check with your doctor before you do anything. There are a ton of stretches you can do - some of which could offer relief for your omnipresent heel spurs.
5th - When and if you can return to running make sure you stretch, stretch, stretch. I know, it's boring, it hurts, etc. Believe it or not, I found that with some biometric exercises and a regular routine of stretching my legs, I've had pain relief in every area. The experts were right, whoda thunk it??!?
And last but not least, take your time getting back into the swing of things. I'm battling my second case of shin splints and it takes a lot of discipline to avoid getting out and running because I'm pain-free for the day. When you are cleared to being your exercise routine I highly suggest a 5 minute warm-up walk. I know, I hate walking - it's a waste of time, I'm out to run not walk, etc. That said, I do my 5 minute warm up followed by stretching and I'm pretty much good to go - not withstanding my current bout of shin splints Oh, and something my foot doc didn't tell me, try cross-training (if you have access to a stationary bike). Running back-to-back days is certainly going to be the death of you!
2011 Frederick Half 1:53:15
Hi Marathon4 and DSnipes - thank you both so much for taking the time to reply and for the advice. Some I have tried, and some I will try for sure when I get back on my feet! Best wishes!