Alliteration aside, I've been encountering knee pain as I've tried to increase my cardiovascular fitness the past few months. It seems as though the atrophy of my quadriceps and tightness of my hamstrings have reached epic proportions in advance of a backpacking trip where I hope to scale mountains and trek the Himalaya and Andes.
At first, I couldn't believe the fact that I was experiencing chrondomalacia (an overuse syndrome, aka “Runner's knee”) from trying to walk an extra 30 minutes a day (15-minute morning and afternoon breaks at work). After all, I bought a nice pair of motion-controlled Saucony running sneakers this past Spring, and I couldn't be *that* out of shape at the young age of 30!
When the pain of needles stabbing the underside of my kneecaps didn't dissipate, I caved and went to a sports doctor/podiatrist I had seen 5 years prior when I was feeling the same pain after actually running several miles a day. He gave me the same message he did back then – ice, isometric exercises, stretching, and wearing supportive sneakers 7 days a week. He said to give it 6-8 weeks of this routine. I did, though didn't ice my knees much out of laziness, and am continuing to feel the pain 3 months later.
Over the weekend, I started to feel down about it. I keep trying to picture what it would be like if I take off on this trip around the world, only to find myself in chronic pain from simply walking a lot! And my plans for a 3-week trek of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal would be squashed like the cartilage in my knees.
Eventually, I picked myself out of this downward spiral when I went to meet Ed, a local Virginian who had mentioned 'round the world travel on a recent post to the BootsnAll message boards. When I returned to my apartment, I decided to double my efforts to improve my poor knees:
- icing them twice a day
- increasing the number of daily stretching exercises
- start wearing my custom molded orthotics again
- take the full recommend dosage of Glucosamine/Chrondroitin/MSM supplement (vs a lesser amount to be cheap)
- limiting my walking until I'm in better shape
I'm hopeful this will be something I can easily get past if I commit to all of these steps. When I went to Costa Rica in 2005 and Belize in 2006, I didn't have any knee pain, despite a moderate amount of activity. I think it can only help that a lot of my walking and hiking was on sand, mud, and dirt, which are notably softer than the concrete and asphalt jungles of modern America.
I'd love to hear from anyone with tips on nursing knees back to health!