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Advice on preventing injuries yet still building mileage (Read 2077 times)

    I am going to start with the back story before I get to the question.

     

    I started running in October, I have never been a runner, in fact I hated to run, just could never get the breathing down. I had two motivations: economics, I was not using the gym enough and we were spending far to much money on the membership and I compete in agility with my dogs. Once I had started training with my young dog, I realized his shear speed and the lack of mine, he was not going to slow down so I had to get faster. 

     

    I have worked my way through Cto5K, it has taken time, at the start I was taking 2 rest days (needed) and then the big gaps are New England weather related. Each time I restarted I stepped back a week and always felt stronger. Now I am comfortable running 30 min and each time I go out I am seeing small improvements in my fitness. I was hoping to start working towards OHR program BUT  body is not co-operating with the increased mileage I am starting to feel it in my knees. I am not bothered when running it is after that is the problem. During the build up to a full 30 minutes my knees did not bother me, all my muscles had issues, just not the knees.

     

    My knees have always been cranky, any time I have started a new sport, it has taken time for them to adapt. When I started ridding (horses)  again I was wearing braces for a year, same with tennis but I have always got to the point were there are no issues. I have tried braces, but as the problem is after the fact, I found them more of a hindrance than a help.

     

    So the question to the many experienced runners is what is the best way to continue to improve my fitness and stamina, yet still protect my knees. Ideas I had were to start running shorter runs, 2 day recoveries.

     

    Thanks

      So the question to the many experienced runners is what is the best way to continue to improve my fitness and stamina, yet still protect my knees. Ideas I had were to start running shorter runs, 2 day recoveries.

       

      Thanks

       

      What makes you think running MORE would hurt you?  If anything, IF built-up appropriately (which is I'm sure is actually your point here anyways), running will most likely actually strengthen your knees.

       

      If you are up to 30-minutes now (continuously, I'd assume???), do 20~30 minutes (upper end) one day and then take about 2 days of 15-minutes and THEN take a day off if you want to or need to.  Taking extra off-days is not the way to go about.  Rather little often is the way to go. 

       

      I would agree with your idea of not wearing braces--they support your knees and won't help you strengthen them.  If you're having an issue AFTER the run, keep your knees warm and, at the same time, ice them.  It may sound weird but it really helps.  Ice massage your knees first, then keep them warm by wrapping them with, say, the arm of old sweats or something like that.  Depending on what kind of pain you experience, consider strengthening exercise for your knees.  One of the simpliest forms would be to use an old pain can and hook it on your foot and lift your foot up from a sitting position. 

       

      By the way, I'm sure you're just "joking" about your dog but, if he/she sprints out, it may not be a good idea for you to go for a run with your dog.  Trying to fun fast is not the way to go about.  Most dogs are not an endurance animal.  What you're trying to achieve is the oppoiste of what they (dogs) are designed to be.

        What makes you think running MORE would hurt you?  If anything, IF built-up appropriately (which is I'm sure is actually your point here anyways), running will most likely actually strengthen your knees.

         

         

        I wish I had a dollar for everyone that said to me "I can't run because it will hurt my knees."  Now, some of these are legitimate (people that hurt their knees playing OTHER sports), but most are just responding to the crap they see in the news.  


        On My Horse

          Nobby415, I agree that the best way to build strength and help prevent injury is to do more running.  If you want to be able to run pain free, you need to run a lot, but there is an important point that can get lost there.  You need to be healthy in order to build strength, if you aren't you will just make the injury worse and then have to take time off, which will set you back further.  I saw this was becoming an issue with barefoot running a year or two ago, people were running barefoot to prevent injuries, which I think is a pretty good idea, but a lot of people got hurt, and then decided to immediately start running barefoot without letting themselves heal.  That is a huge mistake in my opinion, the way to heal an injury is not to add more stress and say the issue with strengthen itself away.

           

          Now wearing a brace is going in the other direction, protecting your knees so they don't get hurt, but also not allowing them to strengthen and learn to protect themselves on their own.  I would only use a knee brace if absolutely necessary, and if you aren't out of it in a few weeks you need to find a new solution.

           

          In a situation like this I would suggest some strength training, if you are having trouble with your knees it could be almost any issue, but a great deal of knee troubles are helped by strengthening the legs, particularly the quads.  I'm not an expert on strength training but if you are seeing health issues as you increase your running volume, I think the best course of action is to reduce your running back to a comfortable pain free volume, and add strength training.  After a few weeks you should be able to return to the increased volume with fewer issues.

           

          There is, of course, the important distinction between real injury pain and the "growing" pain associated with increases in any type of stress on your body.  Soreness is normal, even in the knees, it sounds like you, alligande, have a good grasp on the difference, but make sure you consider that the issue might be less serious before you make any changes to your training.

           

          Good luck

          "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with in us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

            I think it's crucial to find the right shoes and to develop your optimal running form and stride.  Incorrect shoes and stride can definitely bring on chronic knee injury.

            Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

              Now wearing a brace is going in the other direction, protecting your knees so they don't get hurt, but also not allowing them to strengthen and learn to protect themselves on their own.  I would only use a knee brace if absolutely necessary, and if you aren't out of it in a few weeks you need to find a new solution.

               

               

              The two PT's I know and have seen in the past always say to never wear a brace for the reason you mention.  

              runjanerun


                Going slowly and just increasing has always been my way...  In my experience, and have seen it in people I have coached, it's not the general increase of miles that causes injury, but that they are running their miles too fast and so the increase is too much intensity and then - injury. 

                 

                So someone running a 21:45 5K for example, I'd expect most their running to be at a 9:15-9:30 pace.  Allows a comfortable increase in miles. 

                 

                Even at a starting level, going too fast can get to you.  How do your runs feel?

                 

                The best way to handle more miles is to run more miles (body adapts) and the best way to do that is often to slow down.   I wouldn't take a lot of days off but you don't have to go as far as you can every time either. 

                  Alligande:

                   

                  glad you posted here.  There is a tremendous amount of things going on here with what you are trying to acomplish.  You mention that you compete in dog agility & want to get faster to keep up with your dog.  You also want to achieve better overall fitness/stamina with your running.  all the while you want to learn how to do both with "cranky knees" .   These are two completely different types of running, but there is no reason why you cannot achieve all your goals if done properly.

                   

                  My wife is a few years older than you & competes in dog agility on a regular basis.  quite good at it as a matter of fact, even though she is not fast by any means & has a small dog that can completly outrun her in speed.   Dog agility is a very intense & very short sport with most of runs lasting 35-45 seconds per run (or up 60)depending on  course set-up with quick turns & stops & then waiting around for sometimes 2-3 hrs before running again.  If you do not have the proper skills/techniques along with  a good warmup/stretching routine you will get injured!!    As you know, injuries, especially knee injuries are very, very common in this sport.  You are twisting, turning, speeding up , slowing down, & then you have to sprint from one end of the dogwalk to the other to catch up with your dog to direct him/her to the next jump or tunnel or weave. Add that to the fact that you are not a spring chicken. (neither are we, but its a fact of life, sorry). Running in general will not necessarily make you "faster" but can help build your leg strength which should help to prevent (did not say eliminate) injuries.  You got some good advice already on running for general fitness so will not add to that discussion.  Her general advice for agility & injuries without knowing you & your dog specifically are"

                   

                  *wear knee brace but only when doing agility not for fitness running.  *work on front crosses/turns  *make sure you warmup properly & stretch!!

                  *work on soccer skills!!  *go very slowly in building up your fitness running  *on the slightly longer stretches (flats) between obstacles pump your arms

                   

                  questions for you:  how long have you been competing?   how often? dog?  Do you know about the e-mail group called "agiledogs?  Wife highly recommends you to join agiledogs.  Sounds like it is the RA of dog agility

                   

                  When she has time she will try to find more info more specific to your situation & goals.

                   

                  congrats by the way on finishing the c25k & taking up running!!

                     Let me try and answer some of the questions raised, and thank you for the thoughtful comments and observations

                     

                    My knee pain goes back years, it started when I was 18 and riding a bike to college 3 miles everyday, it got progressively worse and painful, since then I have had odd flare -ups and never ride a bike and have always been careful about building on new workouts. I think my current knee pain came from training with the dog on a very hard packed field. Sadly, I know the difference between pushed a little hard, to the slightly weird feeling that says something is not right which I have right now. 

                     

                    I have been to a running store and got good shoes, I also have very flat feet, that made running hard before I got my current shoes.

                     

                    By the way, I'm sure you're just "joking" about your dog but, if he/she sprints out, it may not be a good idea for you to go for a run with your dog.  Trying to fun fast is not the way to go about.  Most dogs are not an endurance animal.  What you're trying to achieve is the oppoiste of what they (dogs) are designed to be.

                    My runner partner is a Border Collie and the mortifying part is he does nor even have the decency to trot, more like a brisk stride. Border Collies strangely can be successful sled dogs and I have him and me with a cani-cross harness. Having him with me has been a great motivator, although not the best for his leash manners.

                     

                    "If you are up to 30-minutes now (continuously, I'd assume???), do 20~30 minutes (upper end) one day and then take about 2 days of 15-minutes and THEN take a day off if you want to or need to.  Taking extra off-days is not the way to go about.  Rather little often is the way to go." 

                    Yes I am running continuously.... I will try this, I guess once I reached that magic goal of 30 min, then it felt like I should be building on that. 

                     

                    "Even at a starting level, going too fast can get to you.  How do your runs feel?"

                    I have been very careful because although I was aerobically unfit, I am physically strong and know that I can push my body harder than I should. The first 3/4 of my runs feel great, the last section is a little tough but that is because I live in hollow, no matter which way I run from my house I will finnish up hill.

                     

                    "questions for you:  how long have you been competing?   how often? dog?  Do you know about the e-mail group called "agiledogs?  Wife highly recommends you to join agiledogs"

                    I am starting my third summer competing and will have been training for 4 years this June as well. I have 2 Border Collies, one who only does agility because I want him to and will never be a speed demon, and the youngest who just went to his first trial last weekend who is a very large rocket of a Border Collie, and the reason I took up running. I do subscribe to agiledogs, along with other lists and Clean Run. My knees have never bothered me playing agility.  I have found that since I started running I am much faster on course and able to think more clearly as to my next decision as I am no longer puffing and panting. Watching handlers I admire I realized I needed to be much fitter to be able to achieve my goals, I do not want to be the type of handler who does it all by distance in the middle of the course. The rather sad part is that I have always been the fittest person amongst my training group. 

                     

                    All this said I have really started to enjoy running and love the affect it has had on my body, I have had better results from running than working out at the gym.

                     

                    PS I am denial about not being a spring chicken, 46 is really not middle aged Shocked I can still do everything I want..... right.

                      ...sled dogs...

                       

                      Sled dogs!!!  Ah!  I admit; I'm wrong on my comment then.  Yes, dogs go far too.  But, in general, most dogs are "sprinters" rather than "marathoners".  Our dog Fischer, may he rest in peace, was definitely an "interval" dog--he would sprint out, stoped and sniffed ("sniffed"?) and dashed again...and after 10-minutes, slowed down to a trot...  He never learnt (sounds familiar?).

                       

                      Don't get me wrong; I wasn't telling you NOT to build upon your 30-minutes.  I was simply telling you to go more often now, even if it's such a short run of 15-minutes in between.  The one I would really recommend would be; you'd go 15 minutes everyday but 2.  Go 30 minutes on Saturday and rest on Sunday.  I will bet, within a few weeks, this will be too easy for you.  Then go 40 minutes on Saturday and possibly even 20 minutes on Wednesday...  Then you'll go 15-20-15-20-15-40-rest.  Then 15-20-15-30-15-45-rest.  Then 15-20-15-30-15-60-rest.  By now 15 minutes will be too easy for you; 15-30-20-30-15-60-rest.  Then 20-30-20-45-15-60-rest...something like that.  Now you're building and yet you still go back to easy days in between.  Longer runs will give you stamina; shorter days will give you rest and refreshment.  Each and every step you run, you're doing something to your body.  Even 15-minutes a day will strengthen your legs and pump more oxygen in your system.

                       

                      And, yes, 100% agreed with someone saying choosing correct shoes.  Don't go with heavy bulky stiff shoes.  Go light and flexible and run "tip-toe"...or run "feather light".

                        Thanks Nobby, that all makes sense, I am wondering if I might need to change shoes even though my current ones are really comfortable and have prevented the painful arches happening, as I am sure my gate has changed from the struggling puffing and panting mess back in october to the person that can run 3 miles and not collapse. The shoes I have are Addidas supernova sequence. I am going to give my twitchy knee a couple more days rest and then start on your program.

                         

                        Regarding the dog, I figure I will be able run up to about 5 miles with him. Border Collies are very adaptable, trainable and can have amazing stamina when fit. He knows when we are running stopping to sniff is not on the agenda, if you can grab a quick pee that is fine but I am not stopping, but longer bathroom breaks have to wait till we are home, and yes he can hold it.

                          I did not read through all the responses here because my attention span is not up to speed today.  I would say that you need rest days, slower mileage days, shorter distance days, and longer distnace days.  I would find a progression plan that fit your current fitness level but ideally one should increase their overall time/distnce by 10% a week with a step back week built in every 4th week or so. 

                           

                          One thing I found that helps with my lower leg pains is to ice them after many of my longer runs.  I will come in and relax and once I am done sweating I will use bags of frozen peas to put on my upper knees and every 10 minutes or so work them down to the point where I eventually am icing my ankles.  This helps greatly.  Another way to accomplish this is to take an ice bath but given your current distnce you would probably only need to ice you knees for a good 10-15 minutes after runs.

                           

                          In the end you will find a conditioning and strengthening of your overall joints and person.  I am positive that I have the knees I have today from years of running.  My knees are the only ones that do not ache after a pick-up game of basketball, soccer, or an other sport.  Those who are not as active seem to have issues.

                          "You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas"  Davy Crockett

                          Julia1971


                          All in for Boston

                            This is complete anecdotal and I ofter no scientific support for why this apparently worked for me.  That said, maybe 7 or 8 years, I had pretty bad knee problems - aches and pain, awful crunching noises, could barely walk down stairs, saw a orthopedic surgeon who suggested surgery and gave me anti-inflamatories, etc.  I wasn't running all that much at that point; but was playing another sport pretty frequently and competitively.  Anyway, I read an article in some magazine that suggested knee pain could be linked to muscle weakness/imbalance.  I started lifting weights 3x/week and a few months later, the pain went away.  I don't know if it was coincidence or what, but since then, I spend a few months a year lifting.  I haven't had problems with my knees (or anything else) since.  But again, that's not based anything but what's been working for me.

                             

                            Edited because an orthopedic surgeon is not a PT.

                            Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. - Anais Nin

                              This is complete anecdotal and I ofter no scientific support for why this apparently worked for me.  That said, maybe 7 or 8 years, I had pretty bad knee problems - aches and pain, awful crunching noises, could barely walk down stairs, saw a orthopedic surgeon who suggested surgery and gave me anti-inflamatories, etc.  I wasn't running all that much at that point; but was playing another sport pretty frequently and competitively.  Anyway, I read an article in some magazine that suggested knee pain could be linked to muscle weakness/imbalance.  I started lifting weights 3x/week and a few months later, the pain went away.  I don't know if it was coincidence or what, but since then, I spend a few months a year lifting.  I haven't had problems with my knees (or anything else) since.  But again, that's not based anything but what's been working for me.

                               

                              Edited because an orthopedic surgeon is not a PT.

                               

                              Julia:

                               

                              If you look hard, you should be able to find quite a few supporting report on what you had experienced.  Knee is one of the most fragile joints in our body and all there is to support is muscles around it.  Muscles are what keep the knee in place and the stronger, or more toned, they are; the more stable your knee would become. 

                               

                              The whole idea of this barefoot running is, by doing so, you'll strengthen your arches and other muscles in your feet and ankles.  The same can be true with your knees--you don't need supporter (braces); you need to strengthen them.

                                Run on soft surfaces.

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