Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Best Exercise for Knee Pain?

Because I know you all can't sleep at night, you're so concerned about my knee pain, I'm happy to report it has gone down significantly. I attribute the improvement to a couple of things: stretching a couple times, reading a comprehensive article about knee pain in Runner's World--ignorance, in my world, is not bliss--and staying off it, kind of. Instead of running, I've been going to spinning classes at the Y, which I love: a total cross-section of riders, from grandmothers to Ironmen triathletes, all sweating together under dimmed lights as Shakira croons about how her hips don't lie. Best of all, I soak through my sports bra within the 50-minute class, which for some reason makes me feel proud and accomplished. At the end of the day, if it's been filled with burned grilled cheeses, crabby kids and other frustrations, I'm happy to know it could've been worse if I didn't take the time to sweat.

I ran today--41 minutes around the normal, flat route that Katherine and I have carved our footprints into--and it was hard, but not painful: success. I hope to continue the upward swing by integrating a tip from running legend Kathrine Switzer. (I'm reading her compelling biography, Marathon Woman, right now--more on that in the next post.) During her competitive career, she was once sidelined with some crazy knee pain, and went to the doctor who told her that her quads were weak and as such, couldn't support her knee. She replied, "How can they be weak? I run 100 miles a week." He insisted they were, and to prove it, had her do a wall sit: back straight against a wall, knees bent at 90 degrees, hold as long as you can. She did it for 70 seconds that day in the doctor's office, which isn't bad, but worked up to 11 minutes (!) at home over time. She wrote that now, if she ever has knee pain, she starts doing wall sits again and it goes away.

Although my weekly mileage falls just short of 100 miles (by about, oh, 80), until I read that, I prided myself on having strong quads. I tried the wall sit yesterday, and did it twice for 70 seconds each. (Translate: I'm as strong as Kathrine!) But they were super intense; my legs were shaking at the end, and my quads were whining all day yesterday and today. Which means they work, and will hopefully stave off future knee pain. My goal: to build up to 3 minutes over the next two months (I'll go up 10-15 seconds weekly), and do them three times a week. Anybody want to join me? I could use a virtual partner in pain.



Unknown said...

Hey Dimity,

I'm with you on the knee thing. I returned to running about a year ago, after a long hiatus, and now my knees are complaining.

I'll go home tonight and try a wall sit and work with you to get better.

Thanks for the tip.

Priscilla Crawford said...

I'll take the challenge too! I have a minor knee ache that needs attention. Wow, my first try 55 seconds.

Lani said...

I'll take the wall sit challenge, too! I don't have any aches now, but it never hurts to start preventing things before they happen!

Marathon Woman is an AWESOME book. I read it during my marathon training, and WOW! What an inspiration and motivation.

GreenStyleMom said...

I used to do wall sits while I was pregnant to practice my breathing techniques! My prenatal yoga instructor said it was the closest you could come to a real labor contraction. Ouch! The breathing did help me hold the sit a little longer, although I think sits are NOTHING compared to labor... :)

Jules said...

That is a great tip about the wall sits. I just tried one and loved the burn. I wouldn't say that to many people, but I'm sure everyone here would agree with me. I'm not sure how long is "as long as you can"? Until you fall over? :) I kind of want to try.

Marathon Woman is now on my Christmas list.

(I am a holdover from the Runner's World blog. thanks for continuing!)