Thursday, 11 December 2014

Knee Rehab, and Butter in Coffee?

Happy Thursday!

Today is a very happy Thursday for me, because this weekend my little sister is getting married!  I'm taking tomorrow off work, and will start the wedding preparations. Bring it on!

This week, my knee has started bothering me again.  It was a bit strange - Monday afternoon I just started getting pain again on the inside of my knee cap.  I have been increasing the distance on my runs, and on Saturday I did my first 15km run in ages, but the delayed timing seems odd for me to feel pain.

Anyway, to be honest I haven't been doing the exercises that my physio gave me as often as I should.  Well, if we're being COMPLETELY honest here ... at all.  I do quite a bit of leg work in my NROLFW weights sessions, like squats, deadlifts, lunges etc, and generally I'm feeling pretty strong.  But the pain reminded me that I'm still in rehab stage, and I need to be a bit better at doing the right things to ensure this injury becomes part of my past, and stops hassling my present.

As a reminder, I was diagnosed as having Runner's Knee (not surprisingly), so my treatment was specific to addressing that condition.

I thought I'd do a refresher of some of the things that I should be doing to rehab my knee!  And just in case you are in the same boat as me at the moment, I also thought I'd share.


In case you're unfamiliar with the acronym, it means:

Have a look here ... 
This is the normal first steps when you injure yourself, to try to minimise the damage sustained.  I'm in a bit of a different spot at the moment, but I still find that ice and elevation helped to relieve the pain when my knee is particularly aggravated.  If these steps don't alleviate your pain though, and it persists, you will need to get checked out by a professional.

Foam rolling

IT band
My physio said that my quads are really tight, particularly on my left leg (which is the side with the injury).  She recommended I spend some serious quality time with my foam roller.  By rolling on my quads, IT band and hamstrings, I can help relieve this tension and stop my muscles working against each other.

Strengthening exercises

My physios (I have had a couple of different ones of the last couple of months - but all from the same clinic) have given me a range of exercises to complete to strengthen the muscles supporting my knee.  These varied in difficulty as my strength increased.  The picture above shows some of the exercises I was advised to do.  Here are some others specifically for runners.

I find the Swiss ball leg curls really effective in strengthening my glutes and hamstrings.  The goal is to have really good form, and focus on contracting the right muscles.  I found that I had to learn how to contract my quads again!  I also have to be really conscious of my form when I'm doing squats - my hips can be unbalanced.

Rest (just in case I missed it in RICE)

As a regular exerciser, particularly one who prefers running, it can be REALLY hard to rest.  I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I know I should rest, and that a couple of days not running won't hurt me (and probably do me some good), but it can be really difficult to follow through.  When I went to my physio, at first I was still running some, but less and slower.  But after a few sessions with little progress he told me that it takes about 2 weeks of no running at all for the damage to start healing - like inflammation to go down, and little tears to heal.  So I had to stop doing anything that hurt my knee.  And it was difficult!  But also worth it - after taking 2 weeks break from running, I could start working my way back with no pain at all.

Cross train

Just because I wasn't running didn't mean I should stop exercising altogether.  In the first place, I had extra time to commit to the strengthening and stretching exercises required to heal my knee.  And secondly, although most runners won't admit it, there are other cardio exercises that make you get your sweat on almost or just as good as a run!

When I hurt my knee and realised I wouldn't be able to run much for awhile, I started the New Rules of Lifting For Women strength training program.  I've enjoyed it so much that I've kept it up for about 4 months now, and it's a big focus for me.

I also substituted my runs with lots of walking (usually with Angus!), some spinning (although being a bit careful that I wasn't overloading my knee), and elliptical.  Swimming would also be a great way to cross train, but to be frank, I hate swimming so I didn't go there.

See a Sports Therapist

If you have been exercising for a while, you will have had niggling aches and pains.  But you will also know the difference between something like this, and an injury.  For me, a big indicator is where the pain persists after exercise, and starts to restrict my day to day movements.  If either your niggling pains persist, or you have the signs of an injury, you should make sure you go see a professional.  That may be your doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor or others.  Just make sure they are appropriately qualified, and don't be afraid to get a second opinion!  But DO get it checked out.

Get my shoes fitted

Although I've had my shoes fitted in the past, I had a conversation with my physio about my running shoes and what I needed.  I apparently have quite flat feet!  No one had ever told me that before.  I knew I had a tendency to overpronate, but apparently without shoes it can be quite extreme.  Luckily, I wear the Asics Kayanos (and have for awhile now) which have a high level of control and stability to support my feet properly.  But your running shoes can make a big difference!

So think about getting your next pair of running shoes fitted, and maybe even consider if it might be worth visiting a podiatrist.   Most speciality sports and running stores should have staff qualified to fit your shoes properly.  You will probably have to take your shoes off, walk and run on a treadmill so they can watch your stride and foot strike (they may even have a tv screen set up to zoom in on your feet), and then do the same over again when you try on shoes.  Take the time to make the right decision - it will be worth it in the long run!

Just as a side note, I saw an article about people putting butter in their coffee.   Umm, really?  Have any of you tried it?  I'm not sure I can get my head around it.  It's supposed to give you better focus, fewer cravings, and improved metabolism, but is that because of the butter, or just the effects of caffeine?  I'm not sure about this one.

What would you tell me to do to have the best chance of recovering from my knee injury?  Have you tried butter in your coffee?  Yay or Nay?

Please note that I'm not a doctor nor have I had any medical or sports training.  These are just thoughts based on what I've been told or researched myself.  If you have any injury, please make sure you get checked out by your general practitioner or sports therapist.


  1. Ha...the first time tastes a little odd, but I love butter in coffee. Hope your knee heals quickly!

    1. Thanks Lauren! Maybe I'll just have to give the butter coffee thing a try ... one day :)