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Posts Tagged ‘runner’s knee’

You know he’s going to say it. You’re sitting there, under the florescent lights, in your underwear, your feet dangling over the edge of the examination table, clenching your teeth–waiting for the inevitable.

You’re going to need to take it easy for four to six weeks.

“So no running at all?” you ask, as man tears well up in your eyes. Those are vaporous droplets of moisture consisting of raw hide and Old Spice, in case you were wondering.

Then he adds: “No strenuous physical activity involving leg work at all.”

“Daaaaaaammmmmmmmnnnnnn!” you scream internally (I hope I screamed that internally, anyway).

So now the withdrawals begin. The first day’s a real doozy. You’re depressed, short-tempered, and despondent. You don’t see this as a much-needed break from the rigors of daily extended cardio. You see it as rehab a la Dr. Drew Pinsky’s hour-long MTV depravity sketches.

Those not in-the-know, typically aren’t aware running does more than make you svelte: It gets you high. A good long run can keep you fuzzy (in a good way) for hours… It’s addictive.

And hearing a doctor tell you you can’t get your fix, is like… well I already provided that analogy.

However, after the first few days of moping around in the ugly world of calorie restriction (another reason runners run), you realize it’s doable.

You see a physical therapist, he gives you some possible explanations for your injuries (IT band, runner’s knee, blah, blah, blah) one of which is the expensive insoles you bought at REI. We’ll talk about those torture devices at a later date. And you start a regimented, hourly, stretching routine

I’ll keep you posted.

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You know how bloggers apologize for taking a break? Stuff like: “One month without a post” or “I bet you were wondering what happened to me.” The reader’s response: ‘I had no idea you were gone.’ Which is probably the same sentiment anyone who reads this is going to have. And maybe my own forthcoming explanation is an attempt to sublimate some writer’s guilt, but I thought you deserved an excuse for my absence:

I’ve been out of commission for the past month or so. Here’s how the proverbial shiz went down. I was in a hurry one morning, and I tried to squeeze in a quick run before going to work. I must have taken those first couple of miles too fast, because by mile five I was breaking down. A new kind of pain dug its teeth into my knee and wouldn’t let go. I had to do that weird looking one-stiff-leg-run walk thing. Not very cool looking.

I didn’t let it bother me at first. I just stretched a bit when I got home — probably not a good idea — and went about my day… The pain got worse at work. It radiated outward from an area just south of the back of knee like a reactor meltdown. Chernobyl was happening in my leg. Stairs were the worst.

Fast forward three days. I’d made a few more ill-fated running attempts, each one more excruciating than the previous. I decided to do the unthinkable: rest for a few days.

That didn’t work either.

After whining to my wife about it for a week or so, medical advice seemed the obvious next step. I saw a nurse practitioner. She recommended an MRI.

If you’ve never had one, let me break it down for you: big cold sterile room, intimidating beige barrel with a digital display on the front, earplugs, and positively no reading material.

It’s like lying under a train for 60 minutes. Loud arrhythmic noises for an extended period of time. And the guy operating the thing is in a different room talking to you from behind a glass partition through a Hardee’s Intercom — which makes you feel real safe.

Anyway, an hour or so after crawling into that infernal contraption, I left the hospital with a CD-ROM and no instructions from anyone on what to do next.

I took it back to the nurse practitioner’s office. She wasn’t there of course.

Long story short, the torn ligament in my leg healed after an extended period of rest, and I was able to start running again.

I’d like to think I’ve learned something from this experience, but I can’t say I have. Other than I’m not fond of MRIs. Once again, I ignored the virtues that get most people through this kind of predicament (patience being one) and wound up grumpy. Wait a minute; is that learning?

But alas, I’m happy again. Don’t let my complaining fool you. I’m thrilled to be back out there.

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Let’s talk about polymers, friends. Specifically, Ethylene-vinyl acetate. I know you’d rather be commenting on someone’s status on the Spacebook or MyFace, but let me assure you; that person will still be “tired of working” or “freezing his ass off” two minutes from now when you finish reading this. I’m just messing with you. You go ahead and comment. I’ll be here when you’re done.

Ethylene-vinyl acetate is a polymer that approaches elastomeric materials in softness and flexibility, yet can be processed like other thermoplastics, according to the Wiki gods. EVA is used as a foam binder in shoe padding, plastic wrap, hot glue guns and other less than eco-friendly substances; but where would we be without it? Plastic, you gotta love it. Actually, I don’t love it, but my knees do. They want to marry it.

andy_warholI believe it was Andy Warhol who said, “I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

Runners know EVA as that marshmallowy foam stuff that makes your kicks so comfy. It consists of millions of air and gas-filled foam cells. Every footfall on EVA compresses it and the gas gets pushed out and then sucked back in. You slap some stuff called PU on the bottom of the shoe and you’ve added some much needed durability.

Simple as that.

However, EVA does not necessarily a quality running shoe make. Often times, flashy design muscles out comfort and durability, and you’re left with a smaller checking account and blisters the size of Moonpies.

Trip Allen, a renowned designer in the field, has been at the forefront of running shoe technology since 1979, when he worked with Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in his lab.

Allen is at the top of my list, and if I play my cards right, he may chat with me for a bit.

OK, off with you to your social networking site.

Ice, elevation and ibuprofen

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