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I had ankle surgery almost 3 years ago due to a snowboarding accident. I finally was able to start running again this year and even did 2 5K's recently with no problem until recently. I was playing in a kickball league and pulled my quad muscles due to a muscle inbalance a couple months ago. I did the RICE method and all seems well now with the quads. I also stopped running completely and have slowly started to do exercises that are low impact. I am now experiencing knee pain that is above my kneecap in both legs. It does seem to hurt more on the bad ankle side than the other though. I work in a bank and wear comfortable shoes (Privo slipons). They seem to feel a lot better when I wrap them with an ace bandage. They seem to be swollen, and feel warm only hours after I wake up, which is confusing to me. I have also done the RICE method as much as possible. The pain does seem worse some days more than others. Has anyone had something like this happen before? I have spent many hours at the doctor due to my ankle and would really like to avoid it if possible. I really want to run, but do not want to make matters worse. What should I do? Does anyone know what pain above the kneecap could be? I have done a lot of "Googling" and have had no luck.
I have no doubt that quad-pull you mentioned is still there, at least residually. Quad imbalance is a major cause of knee pain, and can lead to actual knee damage if left unchecked. More disturbing is the ongoing problem with your ankles. Does your footstrike involve over-pronation? Are you wearing motion control shoes that may be stiffening your footstrike? Does your job require a lot of standing, or a lot of sitting? Standing may be great for your quads, but too little rest for your ankles. On the other hand, sitting may be a great way to rest the ankles, but stretching your quads for too long.
My advice would be to foam-roll or massage out those quads (pressure from above knee toward hip), paying special attention to the tightest and most painful spots that may be perpetuating the imbalanced pull on your knees. If the ankles become extremely warm with use, there is likely to still be some inflammation in them. There are no muscles in the ankles to create this heat, so increased blood flow must be there for some other reason. One useful strategy involving ice, has been to apply ice to the ankle long enough to dull the pain, and take advantage of that opportunity to move the ankle through its range of motion to restore healing circulation while painful swelling is still suppressed by the ice (or cold pack). One recommended exercise is to trace the alphabet with your toes, but you want to explore range beyond this point.
Most importantly, you need to find out the reason behind the stress on both your ankles and quads. It can involve anything from foot/arch structural issues through problems with the structure and muscle tone of your hip and back. A desk job would be a definite strike against the health of your hips, unless you are able to move around frequently. It is unfortunate that you have ankle problems in conjunction with the other potential problems, but there is a way to help address these problems without undue wear and tear: Try pool running, the no-impact strategy for rehabilitation... http://www.active.com/running/Articles/Pool_running_can_be_a_real_workout_and_great_recovery_exercise.htm
Thanks for your feedback.
My left ankle is the only one bothering me and that is because I am only 3 years out of surgery. Surgery just does not make the pain go away, however I am sure this quad issue does not make it better either. However, both of my knees do hurt which is my major concern as of right now. I do have a desk job, so what would be the best thing to do during the day to keep the pain above my knees from driving me insane? I am an overpronator, and I am looking into buying a pair of running shoes that are more motion control. I am not currently running right now because my knees bother me too much. Would it be ok to run? Or should I just stay with the low impact activites? It has been a month and 2 days since my last run.
If you have the average desk you may need the "modesty panel" removed so you can prop your legs up for at least part of the day. I'd stick with the no-impact training until your ankles can get ahead of the wear and tear. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep, plenty of vitamin c, as few refined foods as possible, and no food within 4 hours of bed time. Try a small thin pad (quarter-dollar sized) under the ball of your foot (under the insole) before you switch to motion control shoes, which may make things worse by limiting shock-absorption. The pad can correct the knee and ankle symptoms over time by modifying your need to pronate.