Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Knee injury diary - part 2.

Diagram of the knee with highlight of the meniscus
The Meniscus

So - here's the status. For a week I gradually worked my body using a combination of swimming, static bike and weight training. Swimming went surprisingly well, bearing in mind that it is my weakest physical talent. The static bike was fine (though I would have been bored out of my mind if it hadn't been for my Nexus 7 pad and a healthy back-catalogue of trashy films) and strength training focused mainly on rehabilitation. The main exercises were leg-press, leg extension and some slow squats. Within a week the knee seemed stronger and the level of pain is now negligible.

Initially I was noticing the injury mostly when climbing up and down stairs with the latter being the most extreme of the two. Apparently this is quite common with damaged meniscus. Having said that, I still haven't gotten a conclusive diagnosis as of yet. I went to my general practitioner on Wednesday of last week and he performed a pretty thorough check. He felt that there was a pouch of liquid around the front of the knee-cap which would suggest a rip or tear that has filled with blood. He booked me into an MRI which, surprisingly I was able to get done on Saturday. I think I'm looking at around 10 days until the pictures are sent to a specialist. He suggested that this might not be a serious injury and that I could perhaps try running after another seven days (that would make it Friday of this week). He left it, most definitely, up to me and at my own risk. I was all ready to follow his advice. In fact I considered leaving it a full month. I'm actually enjoying cross training using other forms of fitness and although I'm really, really missing being out in the fresh air - I felt I could wait. I've also accepted that I might not be able to run a marathon on April 28th - at least in principle - so I feel no rush. However...

Today I got the devil in me. I was at my gym and suddenly decided to try the treadmill. I thought that I could use the arm rests to support myself. I started with a slow walk, then upped the inclination to around 2.5%. Then I tried a slow job. I am talking about a really, really slow jog - 5.5 km/h which is around half my usual speed. The knee clicked once, twice - then kept clicking for around 20 repetitions. Then it stopped. Then running because easier and although I felt a general sense of imbalance I could run! This is fantastic! Let's keep our fingers crossed that this is also fine in the morning. I forced myself to take it easy and stop at 3 KM which felt like a "tease" of a run but I didn't want to be stupid and ruin all my rehabilitation.
Picture of Vibram 5 Fingers minimalist shoes climbing in water.
Vibram 5 Fingers

Another thing to note is that I am using my Vibram 5 Fingers which means, effectively, I'm barefoot training. I have really felt that barefoot my knee has been better - even just walking around. My guess is that I'm more aware of how hard I'm tramping around and more correctly poised with my general walking and standing form.This has inspired me to try to go over to barefoot now at all costs. If it is going to help me to avoid injury then I'm willing to go through the extra work and set-back of running less in order to practise the barefoot form.

So, it looks like my rehabilitation training is working. I'm cautiously optimistic. If this does actually work out then I'm going to consider writing an ebook with detailed information on how I worked with this injury to help others as it's such a common injury.

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