A Runner That Can Apparently Hike

August 7, 2009 at 11:58 am (HES, Life) (, , , , , , , , )

So I was so over the two years of not running that I had just decided I would get cortisone shots in my knee and figure everything else out as I went along.  I just wanted to run.  Thankfully, my dad had a better perspective on my popliteal tentonitis issue.  He told me that if I really wanted to get the shots, I needed to have a plan first.  Otherwise, I’d be wasting precious time trying to figure out what rehab I needed to do instead of actually using the time to do the rehab.

We therefore scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries and bone extremities.  Of course we knew he’d be anti-cortisone shot, but we wanted to hear him out anyway.  This particular chiropractor had worked with many members of my high school cross-country team in the past and had helped a lot of people recover from injuries they had otherwise thought to be hopeless.  I was still a little skeptical because while even my best friend had had success with this chiropractor, she had never been directly told by a doctor that she’d never be able to run again.  I had.

However, I agreed to the appointment, and I actually learned a lot.

My left leg is apparently shorter than my right, which is part of what is making me lock my left knee every time it hits the ground.  Also, the condyles (basically the knobs at the end) of my femur are apparently not lining up quite right with the condyles of the proximal end (the end closer to my body) of my tibia.  Therefore, every time my knee locks, the bones hit my popliteal tendon, eventually inflaming it.

This somehow has something to do with the way my foot is structured.  I have high arches and had issues with my metatarsals (basically think of the knuckle part of your hand, except on your foot) all through high school.  I got orthotics to help with my metatarsals sometime around when I was fifteen, but they apparently were shaped in a way that also messed with my knee.  The medial side of the orthotics is basically a really high arch that matches my foot, but then they almost completely flatten out across to the lateral side, therefore not giving me enough support across my longitudinal arch.  Some of the bones in my foot that aren’t getting support (I’m thinking at least the cuboid bone and lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones…maybe even my calcaneus and talus) are basically collapsing downward every time I step.  That then forces my tibia to come down harder, locking my knee faster and messing with the alignment of my knee condyles.


So first my chiropractor did something where he kind of pulled my knee back into place because it was so jammed together.  I could instantly tell a difference in the strength of my leg from this.

Then he taped my foot, giving my arch more support and kind of keeping my bones in place.  He told me to just see how it felt for a couple days and let him know at our next appointment.

(It is important to note that I walked the Peachtree Road Race (6.2 miles) with a friend less than a month ago and was limping for a few days after because my popliteal tendon was so inflamed.  The same was the case after I went to Cedar Point with my family.  My knee has even been irritated from trying to stand too long, like at a football game.)

Well, I forgot to mention to him that I was going on a camping trip that weekend, where I would be hiking five miles each way, with a thirty pound pack on my back.  It ended up not mattering, because I didn’t even think about my knee one time the entire weekend…because it didn’t hurt once!  Definitely a big improvement!

I’m not saying my knee is all better, because it’s definitely not.  I’ve still had some inflammation since my last visit with my chiropractor (the visit following my hiking trip).  I still can’t run, and I still think that I want to get cortisone shots.  That being said, this is definitely a step in the right direction, and it’s helping to understand why my knee has the problems it has and therefore what I can be doing to help it.


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A Runner That Can’t Run

July 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm (HES, Life) (, , , , , )

I am a runner.

I have not run in two years.


I have popliteal tendonitis.

I’m sure it’s no guess that popliteal tendonitis (also spelled “tendinitis”) is the inflammation of my popliteal tendon, but what does that really mean?

The popliteal (also called popliteus) muscle is a small muscle on the posterior (back) side of the knee.  It begins on the medial (inside) posterior side of the tibia and wraps around and up into the popliteal (or popliteus) tendon. The popliteal tendon then passes through the knee capsule and connects at the lateral (outside) epicondyle of the femur, basically the outside of the outside knot of my femur where the knee joint meets.

Anterior View of the Knee

Popliteal tendonitis occurs from overuse of the popliteal tendon.  Not surprising.  More specifically, the popliteal tendon is my last form of support to keep my knee from hyper-extending.  When all the little muscles in my knee get so fatigued that they can no longer give my knee the support it needs when I land, all the pressure is directed to my popliteal tendon.  The issue is with the extension and landing.  That is why my knee is most easily and intensely aggravated from going down hills.

My doctor told me that a case of popliteal tendonitis as refractory as mine meant that I wouldn’t be able to run again.  End of story.  Well, that may be the end of his story, but I’ve decided it is certainly not going to be the end of mine.

Most articles will say that the best solution for popliteal tendonitis is the basic heat/ice switch-off, accompanied by rest.  Well, I’ve had two years of heating, icing, and resting.  I’ve also gone a step further and taken the ultrasound approach.  Nothing.  So I’m left with one last option.  Cortisone  shots.  This will lower the inflammation in my knee and decrease the pain.  I should be able to run.  It’s true that this is only a temporary fix, and it’s certainly not a procedure I can repeat many times.  It might last a year, no longer.  However, case studies have shown that in some instances, the lowered inflammation and pain from the shots may enable me to do the necessary rehab to strengthen my knee and the muscles throughout and around it so that I can run even after the cortisone has worn off.  So that I can run permanently.

This rehab will include plyometrics, squats, and other exercises to focus on my gracilis, adductor longus, sartorius, and a ton of other inner and outer leg muscles.  Basically, if the muscle exists, I’m going to have to strengthen it.

So, the next step is setting up an appointment to get my shots.  I’ve honestly been avoiding it all summer because the idea of stabbing multiple needles into the back and sides of my knee just isn’t that appealing.  However, I’ve decided that going one more year without being able to run eight miles (or even one mile) is even less appealing.

I’ve got the doctor’s number.  Now it’s time to go through with the rest.

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