I have been injured before in my life and got back to full recovery with minimal impact to my running – let alone my lifestyle.
This last injury was something else. It made me appreciate injury-free running more than ever before. It has challenged my resilience and tested my patience beyond expectation. As with most misfortunes, some positive came out of the experience. I have gained some valuable lessons, especially about my knees, and have been exposed to new experiences.
It has taken me eleven long months to get to a point where I can start increasing my distance to over 10km per session. It was only in July that I began to understand just roughly what was wrong with my right knee and how I will fully rehabilitate it.
My right quadriceps (specifically the rectus femoris) were so tight that it took a lot more stretching, dry needling and strengthening than any of the specialists anticipated. It is not understood whether the rectus femoris tightened over a long period of time or not, but what was common across the observations of all the specialists is that they pointed to the right ball-park area.
It took about 6 extremely painful dry needling sessions that were followed by equally painful stretching sessions to remove the tightness on the muscle. I had to continue with the stretching programme up to three times a day outside of the session and incorporated hamstring and glute and hip strengthening. It took about a month for results to start showing. The knots in the muscles are almost completely broken down and I am able to run up to 11km without feeling pressure on the knee.
The biggest lesson learned was that a quad stretch is a serious stretch. A superficial quick pull of the leg towards the backside that we do before and after a run is not enough. A “serious fun runner” should have a proper quad stretch at least twice a week. The stretch is widely demonstrated on the internet and should be held for about 2 minutes. I also include a foam roller and a “stick” session about twice a week. Interestingly, I had the equipment long before I got injured but over the months I simply just gradually stopped using them.
The positive experience is that I have now gone multi-sport and so I run every other day. This has opened up new challenges for me and will hopefully also decrease the chances that I will get injured. I am excited to see how going multi will have an impact on my long distance running, especially Comrades 2013.