My Knee is a Jerk

(Alternate title, if I knew I didn’t have younger readers, potential employers and family members reading: my knee is an a-hole.)


I’m currently sitting with a big bag of ice on it because it’s a sore little baby.

It actually started bothering me a bit last week, but I just assumed it was because my shoes were worn out, and I’d replace them and it’d be all puppies and sunshine again. Well, I got new shoes, and it’s still sore.

I ran that half-marathon on Saturday (by the way, if you missed that post, please read it. I had an awesome surprise PR which I’m really happy with) probably way faster than I should have–especially with a slightly wonky knee. I can’t change the past, and really, I would never change a thing about a race in which I PR-ed, but in the future? If my knee is hurting a bit and I have a race coming up that is more important? I will sure as hell not be racing this other race.

So what will I be doing to make sure my knee is back in shape and not being a jerk 32 days from now?


In handy bullet form:

  • Stick-ing the hell out of my legs–especially my quads, IT bands and hamstrings–to help keep the knee on track. (Wearing Chicago Marathon finisher gear while doing so. For good luck.)
  • Icing: basically as often as possible.
  • Yoga: especially these poses, but if I take any classes, I will stop the second I feel knee pain
  • Cutting back on running until el knee-er-ino (yup, I minored in Spanish) feels better. My coach has cut back my training plan a bit.
  • XT: swimming. The lowest form of impact cardio and also relaxing.
  • Aleve (NSAIDs)/calcium-magnesium-zinc supplements: the Aleve reduces inflammation; the calcium/mag/zinc supplements help with bone health/healthy muscle contraction.

Standard disclaimer stuff: if my knee really is still being a jerk 32 days from now (which it won’t. It knows better.), then, of course, I’ll re-evaluate the marathon. But it’s just beginning to bother me (it actually is just more uncomfortable than pain), so I’m hoping I’m just catching it early and it will be okay by then. I had some runner’s knee (aka patellofemoral pain syndrome) issues last year, so I know what causes it and what works for me, and I’m trying all of this before heading back to a doctor/PT. If it’s still bothering me next week, I’ll head back to the doctor/PT.

If you’ve had runner’s knee, how do you deal with it? What do you do when you start to feel some sort of injury coming on?

43 comments on “My Knee is a Jerk

  1. Mari

    What worked best for me with my knee, is taping it up.

    I recently bought some high teck compression tights that’s supposed to support the knee too, haven’t tested it properly on a really long run yet. Will let you know on Saturday.

    In addition it helped really focusing on keeping my footfalls light, especially when I start to get tired, as well as doing all the strengthening exercises that my physio told me to do. (Yeah… Very surprising…)

    Good luck, hope the knee gets better soon!!!

  2. Ada

    Oh, I feel your pain. I’m also a patellofemoral pain sufferer and although I’ve always wanted to run, I’m too afraid of making my knees angry at me. I hope you heal up soon. I’d love to hear how you manage to do all that running with PPS. I can lead an active lifestyle (lots of walking/hiking/etc), but running, especially on pavement, feels like a no go for me.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Ada: Well, it surfaced last year between my first and my second half-marathons, and I went to PT for a month or so. It actually hasn’t bothered me since, and to be honest, it’s not too bad right now, and I’m trying to catch it before it does get bad.

      What I think has helped: yoga, stretching, icing, XT, not running more than 3-4 times per week.

  3. Beth @ 990 Square

    I was just at my doctor last week for a combination wonky foot + knee, and she actually suggested doing some biking to warm up before running (and if I’m running outside, making sure I do a nice walking, then slow jogging warm up) before going at it. It seems to help. I also seem to respond better to heat than ice for ongoing muscle pain…

  4. Courtney

    Whenever I feel knee pain coming on (and this just happened to me recently) I think about if I need to get a new pair of shoes (as you did), but I also start wearing those below the knee straps that support the patella/knee. I have only been wearing them for a few runs and I am already feeling much better. I wear them until I feel stabilized and stronger, and then start to phase them out. Also, have you looked up physical therapy type exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee?

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Courtney: Yeah–I forgot to add the link into that, but yes, I am looking at PT-type exercises. And I will look at/into those knee straps. Any kind you’ve used that you like?

      1. Courtney


        I have Pro-Tec and Mueller brands. I like the strap on Mueller, which goes behind the knee, a bit better than the closure mechanism on the pro-tec, but they both do the trick in helping to alleviate my knee pain. Hope your knee feels better soon!

  5. Christine

    don’t worry – you’re doing all of the right things!

    i had major issues with my left knee for about a month in july/august. i could run on it (definitely not as fast though) and it hurt to walk on it.

    knock on wood i’m pain free now – not sure why, but the only thing i really did for it was wear my knee sleeves (from tommie copper) for about a week. the pain literally went from an 8 to a 0. can’t really explain it but they are totally worth checking out – the reviews on the website about these sleeves are all positive as well.

    hope it gets better very very soon!

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Christine: oooh. See, I’m just being very proactive/a big baby. It’s more like a 3-4 right now, I just don’t want it to get any worse.

      1. Christine

        @Theodora: you are SMART. i….. was not.

        anywayyyy forgot to mention that i’m sure if you tweet @tommiecopper saying you’d do a review of their knee/calf sleeves they’d send you soon fo free 🙂

  6. Kimra

    boo to wonky knees. I’m injury-prone, but I also have a high pain threshold, so it’s *very* hard for me to tell when I can run through something and when I need to stop. That’s why I practically begged for PT when I started having IT band problems — it was a new injury for me, and I needed someone to tell me what was acceptable discomfort and what was OMG STOP NOW pain.

    What’s worked for me: strengthening exercises (thank goodness, because they are totally time-consuming), foam rolling, and — to my surprise — running on a treadmill, because I can control my pace/elevation better. When I started PT, I was given the OK to run until the point that I felt pain, so running on the treadmill helped psychologically, too — if I only made it a mile or two, I could hop off and do something else, rather than having to make a slow, sad walk home.

  7. Jen Correa @ Mom's Gotta Run

    I feel your pain. I started with runner’s knee and ended with sciatica. Injury blows! Be smart about your training and definitely see a PT soon if it continues. One of us should be up at the crack of dawn on 11/6 and it don’t look like it will be me. 🙁

  8. Ali

    When my knees were acting up I actually preferred foam rolling to The Stick. Maybe because I’m a wuss and I’m afraid of The Stick.

    Ugh. That’s what she said. Or not. Or something.

    Anyway, take care of yourself. You’ve got a marathon to run, woman. Rest, ice, roll. Drink. All at the same time.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Ali: I’ve been doing both–foam rolling and sticking. I’m basically trying to beat my knees into submission.

      Roll. That’s how I roll. No?

  9. Tracey

    I injured my leg/knee about 6 weeks ago. I rested it off and on, and every time I thought it was healed, I’d go back to my training plan and re-injure it. So the last week leading up to my half marathon, I did not run at all. I managed to take 11 minutes off my previous time, but my leg is pretty damn sore still. So off I go to the doctor tomorrow, hope it’s nothing too serious. Ps – I tried The Stick, but it never seemed to work for me long term.

  10. Stephane

    Oh, that bites. I’ve honestly had to stop running and have backed my expectation to starting again next spring. Partly, I probably needed to stop biking a lot sooner too. Currently: weight training with limited yoga, brisk walks, regular ice, irregular aleve, and a multimineral supp is in my normal regime. My foam roller and I are pretty close these days too… Unfortunately, even resorted to a cortisone shot which then led to back of the knee pain.

    My secret weapon is the salonpas patches. They work a little magic.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Katie: I am SO STUBBORN–but sometimes in the good way. This time in the I. WILL. RUN. THIS. MARATHON. kind of way. (And I’d rather not run it in pain.)

  11. Tara

    I had a knee injury as well. What has helped me go from stuck on the couch to doing the couch to 5k program (initially I could not walk without horrific pain) has been: foam rolling, yoga, the below the knee straps, lots of ice, bengay and stretching. I foam roll and stretch daily. I was icing daily and using bengay daily as well but now I only do those when I feel pain. I also was wearing the brace all the time but now I am only wearing it when exercising or when I have some pain or a long day ( I will wear it for second half than).

  12. cindylu

    I called my hamstring something worse recently. It rhymed with monk pass witch. That might have not been good. It’s still achy despite lots of ice, Aleve, rest and sticking. My marathon is Sunday. I’m hoping a massage on Thursday and prayers — my grandma already has her prayer beads out — will help.

    Hope the knee starts feeling better.

  13. Megs

    For me I saw a doctor that does Active Release Therapy (ART) but also try Graston Technique. He also applied Kenisiology tape a few times.

    I also added Bikram yoga and that has been TREMENDOUS!!!! (dont mind my horrible spelling, coffee hasnt set it in yet)

  14. Lacey

    This may be a “knee-jerk” reaction…(HA! PUNNY!)But, when I have exercise related knee pain, I sometimes massage my knee and T-band with ice, too, rather just using an ice pack. You just freeze water in a paper cup (like a dixie cup) and then tear back the paper and rest your sore leg on a towel and massage up and down the sore area. I think it is primarily for patella pain, but I’ve used the technique elsewhere and it helps.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Lacey: ooh, good to know! Or perhaps I could freeze a bottle of wine and then massage my knees/IT bands…and THEN drink it?

    2. jillian

      Graston SAVED me! I had awful knee pain (from severe IT issues), and it worked magic. I see a PT weekly now for it… I highly highly recommend it!

  15. Lacey

    *Disclaimer: I know lots of docs say you shouldn’t put ice directly on the skin, but just make sure you move it around a lot, don’t just let it sit there. I did actually do this in my massive amounts of PT after both my knee surgeries, so it was physical therapist endorsed at one point in time.

  16. lauren

    Wow, 32 days ’til your marathon, your knee IS a jerk! Hopefully it’s just going through a jerky phase.
    When I start to feel knee pain coming on I slow down, if I’m just a bit achy, I’ll just decrease mileage/intensity and make sure I don’t run on consecutive days. I also never run more than 3 days in a row, ever.
    I’ve learned that I cannot do the squats/lunges in 30 Day Shred, doing them and running in the same week guarantees I’ll have a problem.

  17. SMASH

    Hey lady… I think this is the blog post you were tweeting to me about. (Thank you!) I felt like I was having IT band issues about 2 weeks ago, so that may be what spurred on this injury. I’m going to stay away from running for about a week and just use the elliptical/bike. I’m worried because my knee is clicking with every step… :oX

  18. Jackie

    Just curious, where did you feel the pain? My pain started on my left inner knee from running then went away after a month. When I started running again, it came back (worse than ever but now its both inner knees). Ive been taking a prescribed anti-inflammatory which has helped a bit but now my knees just feel sore-like I’ve ran a whole marathon but I’ve literally walked half a mile. Is this what you felt too?

    Also, been thinking about a patella strap or knee sleeve seems these may help. thanks!! my knees are jerks too!
    (looks at knees) Jerk!


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