By: Dr Dawn DPT
OK… I admit it… I have an injury. I am done hiding it… hiding is mentally and physically exhausting… and it hasn’t made the injury go away!
I did “something” to my knee almost a year ago. I say “something” because there was no clear injury moment that can be pin pointed. However, I know I foolishly engaged in catch up training last September. I went through a grueling teacher training for Yoga Tune Up® and then suffered a nasty upper respiratory virus. These two things set my Ironman training back a few weeks. SO… as soon as I felt well enough, I came back to my training with a vengeance! I put myself through my hardest run workout for my welcome back… and fools suffer! It all felt great during the run although winded. About 1-2 hours after the run, my left knee swelled to twice its size and I have been struggling ever since.
Initially, I ignored the pain and swelling (I know… stupid… and so not the advice I would give any client) believing it would go away. How could it not?!? I did nothing. Really. Except overwork an already compromised knee joint from 2 previous surgeries that I worked really hard to heal to the point of doing half ironman triathlons without any problems. Really.
Soooooo after months of ignoring the issue, pretending I was fine, running through the pain, cycling under my performance level, gingerly pushing off the pool wall with every turn, and deflecting all questions about my knee (are you limping? is something wrong? etc) I decided to start treating THE KNEE. Bodywork, ball rolling, LASER, kinesiotaping, and directed strengthening took the place of swimming, cycling, and running. I stopped socializing with my tri friends so I wouldn’t have to deal with their requests for a training run, ride, or swim.
Everything helped a little bit for short periods of time but the pain marched on. And the knee began to pop and stick and click with every move. I couldn’t sit on the toilet (or anywhere for that matter) without deweighting my left leg and using my arms to assist. I was frustrated and depressed over my inability to heal myself. I was “this close” to seeing my knee surgeon for another clean up of an already minimal lateral meniscus and joint surface stemming from a nasty lateral tibial plateau fracture in 1995.
And then a miracle happened! Well, not really a miracle. But it feels like one!! The pain is slowly diminishing! So why now you may ask? Well… I finally began devoting 100% of my attention to my movement patterns. And I mean every movement. I began analyzing the way I stand, sit, walk, pick up a dropped item from the floor, etc all day long. It begins with my first movement of the morning upon awakening and my hypervigilance extends until I am lying in my bed and drifting off to sleep… only to begin again upon awakening. Yes… it is mentally and physically exhausting, but so was hiding it. At least now I am reaping the benefits of my hard work. The healing is in motion now that the motion is biomechanically in line with my joint’s best interest with every movement, not just during strengthening work.
I can’t say yet if I can really avoid the surgeon’s scalpel, but I am hopeful. I ran 200 meters twice last week without pain. I ran 400 meters once this week without pain. I can bend and straighten my knee (weighted and deweighted) without clicking, popping, and sticking. The stiffness that comes from joint effusion is gone. I can do a near full air squat without pain. I can swim and push off the pool wall easily with both feet. I cycle to work without pain. But I study and analyze every footfall, pedal stroke, knee alignment during motion, muscle activation sequence, etc. Healing is a full time commitment. But I’m worth it! Aren’t you?!?