Thursday, May 27, 2010

Minimalist Running and My Uncooperative Knee

I tried to take up running, and still hope to add it back into my morning routine, but each time I try, it's not long before my left knee shuts me down. I've had no official diagnosis, but from what I've read, my issue seems to be Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Running was the last thing I ever expected to find myself doing on a regular basis, but I started coming to the conclusion that I needed to initiate some kind of regular fitness routine, and running seemed to be one possible piece of that routine. What pushed me into finally taking the first step and trying the running thing out, was my search into foot protection for my surf trip to El Salvador. I eventually came across Vibram FiveFingers, which show up in a lot of writing about barefoot/minimalist footwear running. The arguments for this type of running seemed to make a lot of sense to me (still hoping to get around to reading Born To Run one of these days), so I decided to try it out with my new, funny looking toe shoes.

I surprised myself by liking my new morning run routine. I didn't like the actual running itself (though it wasn't as bad as I expected), but the extra energy and forward momentum that it added to my day was great. My morning shower time was probably cut in half because I was no longer using the shower for the purpose of waking myself up. I built up to to the point where I was running the 5 km that it takes to get to the beach and back, and then my knee struck.

Whenever I try to get going again, after allowing my knee to stop bothering me, the problem shows up again, usually by mile 1. My current thought is that I might need to work on changing my running form some. I'm thinking about trying to adopt the POSE Method to see if that fixes my problem and allows me to avoid taking up swimming or bicycling instead.

Any thoughts? Do I need to give up the minimalist running idea altogether, and get special shoes to control the shape an position of my feet? It seems like it should be such a simple thing to do, just go out and keep putting one foot in front of the other at a decent pace.


Kristen said...

I know that strengthening the muscles around your knee can be a big help. I hope you find something that helps! That really sucks to have knee problems. If you do end up having to stop running, you can get an excellent cardio/strength workout with kettlebells.

Seth said...

I'll try to make sure I work muscle strengthening into my plans for helping my knee out, and thanks for the link to the kettlebell article. If I end up taking up kettlebells, I'll let you know.

Mtnbkgirl said...

Biking as an option? That was interesting to read.

Seth said...

I guess biking would be a possible option, but then I would have to start wearing those funny shorts.

M. Huw Evans said...

I used to have knee problems any time I ran more than about three miles. Since switching from conventional running shoes (with special inserts, etc) I've had no more knee problems. I agree entirely with Kristen though: muscle strength is extremely important for healthy joints. For me I get most of my leg strengthening from bicycling, and as long as you actually push yourself when you're cycling, it should do a good job.