Ouch my knee…
This is a story about knee pain. If you’re experiencing pain in your knee(s) then you should read this. It may apply to you. If you have yet to experience any discomfort in your knees, but are a runner, a jogger, or simply don’t want to endure pain in your knees this story is also for you.
It was January 2nd, 2012 and I was running my usual path along the river in Zurich, Switzerland when a pain shot up my leg.
It was as if a knife had jabbed into my knee. throughout the day the pain got worse and worse until I could hardly bend my leg. It took two days before I could walk normally again.
Being a runner, I feared the worst and didn’t want to think about what it might be, so I surely wasn’t going to go to the doctor. Within a week I was fine again, or so I thought. Two weeks after that it was deja vu.
Going to the doctor
After the second time, I knew the responsible thing to do was to go to the doctor. Sitting in the doctor’s room he began to question me: “Tell me what you were doing when the pain started.” When I told him I was running, his response was textbook. He told me that running is bad, that I’m not young anymore (I was then 29) and that I’ll need to stop running. I don’t want to speak ill of doctors, but there are some in the medical profession who oppose running in all forms, instead of helping patients run better to avoid injury. The doctor examined my knee and ruled out the feared meniscus tear. He said I’d need to visit an expert.
Getting a second opinion
Before I could visit the expert, I went to a local physiotherapist. Before he examined me, he explained to me the origins of pain and the psychological effect of pain. That is once we experience pain, we fear it, and seek to avoid it happening again. This can in fact lead to us doing things awkwardly and in fact cause more damage. He then examined my knee and legs and like the doctor could find nothing wrong. He told me to come back if the pain returns. A few days later, I was back.
It’s not your knee, it’s your back
The first part of the examination was the same as the one before. My knee still hurt and the physiotherapist still couldn’t find what was wrong. Unsatisfied with his findings and understanding the complexities of the human body he had me undress and was determined to examined me from head to toe. Shoulders and back were fine and then there it was – my lower back. the muscle that runs from my lower back down to the top of my left leg was tight and pushing against my knee causing pain. The answer was simple — stretch the muscle out.
Strengthen your core
However, he also put me on a strict regiment of core stability training. Training your core muscles — stomach and lower back will better your posture, make sure you move better, and lower strains on other parts of your body. Within a few weeks I was all better and running again. My visit with the specialist by the way also had him tell me that my knees were perfectly healthy and that he too, was unsure of the source of my pain, though by then it had gone.
Easily improve your core stability
Here are a few simple things you can do to increase your core stability and help improve your general fitness:
- Balance on one leg and alternate. Once you get comfortable, have someone toss you a tennis ball to catch with your hands while on one leg. You should need to reach out to catch it.
- Get an MFT board and practice your balancing on it.
- Use the website randomabs.com where you get a new set of abdominal workout
activities every day to strengthen your stomach muscles and improve your core stability.
Lastly, if you are experiencing pain, do not ignore it, seek medical advice and get a second opinion. As my physiotherapist told me, many knee injuries are actually back problems that can be easily corrected by strengthening your back and stomach.
About the Author: Christian Langenegger (born 1982) has lived and worked in Canada, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. In 2009 he founded the language school Marathon Sprachen with his best friend in Zurich. Christian is also a regular contributor to the online magazine Newly Swissed and co-founded the running enthusiasts blog Dromeus with another friend in 2012.