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Quads, engage!

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Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:40 am

My knee's back at it. Well, let me rephrase that:

It's no longer my lateral collateral ligament (the one that kept me off the roads for 2-3 months). Now it's a much more manageable ache that ranges from my patellar tendon to my articular cartilage. In layman's terms, mostly around the bottom of my kneecap but very rarely at the top inside (medial) corner.

I can replicate the feeling by sitting in a chair, lifting my upper leg slightly off the seat, then straightening my leg. There's a small range in which the pain is actually somewhat annoying; the rest it is a very dull/nonexistent ache.

So, being me, I'm refusing to do anything "real" about this and going to home-rehab route. You might say, "but Mike, that didn't work for your knee last time," to which I'd reply, "yes it did, because this got started 3 months later, in a different place, and only after I started incorporating tempos - too soon, in my hindsight-is-20-20 opinion."

That said, I'm looking for quad strengthening exercises that don't involve a ton of strain on the knee.
Unfortunately, getting out of the saddle while cycling causes it to have the same ache that running does, though sitting doesn't. I plan on incorporating a lot of muscular endurance work (seated, big gear/low cadence intervals at a medium-high intensity) once I get accustomed to the bike again.
I've been doing one-leg "squats" while stretching my quads (stork position) and those don't bother the knee.
I don't have access to weights.
Ideas?
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Post  Jerry on Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:10 pm

Look, Mike, why a young kid like you comes here often for injury prevention questions? This is just wrong. Back off from your regular training a little. At the same time, rather than deal with individual issue when it happens, you might want to consider picking up a total body conditioning program like P90X? lol!
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Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:07 pm

Touche, Jerry.

Truth is, though, I've had bad knees for a long time - it's partially genetic (my dad's cartilage is pretty well cooked), partially because I was pretty reckless in college as a rock climber and instead of down-climbing anything 10-15' off the ground, I'd just drop.

But consider the advice heeded. Only ran 20 miles this week! Wink
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:17 pm

Ok, I had some similar issues when I was a younger runner and first upped my mileage (I was about your age, Mike). I didn't have any weights either, so I went to the local sporting goods store and bought a 5 lb. ankle weight that I would strap around my ankle, and I would sit on a chair or the end of my bed and do quad raises. I still have this weight, and I'm betting I paid no more than $20 for it. It helped immensely and doing those exercises along with one leg squats have helped ever since. I also noticed that strengthening my glutes and hamstrings helped as well since I when I did squats my knees rolled in from center. I worked on strengthening (without weights) to keep the knee straight when doing a squat. I find that when my knees occasionally hurt, if I do three things it helps - two I have already noted above, and the third is to change shoes. I am one who only gets about 250 miles on a pair of shoes because once they start to break down, my knees hurt exactly as you described. I know that is not always an option for those on a tight budget, but it is cheaper than doctor bills and therapy.

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Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:06 pm

Thanks for the advice, Michele. I, too, tend to let my knees roll inwards - while driving clutch, while cycling (actually, this one is sort of intentional), etc. I'll check into a pair of 5lb weights (may as well be able to do my shoulders, too, right?).
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:21 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Thanks for the advice, Michele. I, too, tend to let my knees roll inwards - while driving clutch, while cycling (actually, this one is sort of intentional), etc. I'll check into a pair of 5lb weights (may as well be able to do my shoulders, too, right?).

Sure, mine is a bit awkward since it wraps around you ankle, but you could hold it our wrap it around your wrist. Never thought about the clutch thing, but I sold my 6-speed Mini a few months ago, and my glute/hammie issues are much improved.
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Post  Nick Morris on Wed May 02, 2012 10:23 am

I think that squats will be your best bet to strengthening those quads. So you don't have access to weights. How about a bottle of liquid laundry detergent? It works like a kettle ball. And if you are out of detergent, you can always fill the bottle with sand. It's a cheap alternative and can give you some weight access. Just a thought...
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Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed May 02, 2012 10:26 am

@Nick Morris wrote:I think that squats will be your best bet to strengthening those quads. So you don't have access to weights. How about a bottle of liquid laundry detergent? It works like a kettle ball. And if you are out of detergent, you can always fill the bottle with sand. It's a cheap alternative and can give you some weight access. Just a thought...

That's a good call. I used to use 5gal buckets (filled to varying degrees) that I had for my aquarium (big aquarium = lots of buckets), but I got rid of those with the tank. I'd only been able to come up with my bike trainer (because I saw my brother using his as a barbell for bicep curls) until now. Thanks, Nick!
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Post  fostever on Wed May 02, 2012 11:00 am

I've noticed for me that biking causes more knee pain than running does. My wife said that usually happens if the seat is not high enough, although mine seems to be where it should be. I'd say look into doing a full range of strengthening 2-3 times per week. You need to address all the potential muscle imbalances running causes, because everything is linked in the kinetic chain. Targeting one problem area will only produce other problem areas in the future. As much as I hate strength workouts I've learned the hard way and see what happens when I get lazy and stop for a while.
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Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed May 02, 2012 11:04 am

@fostever wrote:I've noticed for me that biking causes more knee pain than running does. My wife said that usually happens if the seat is not high enough, although mine seems to be where it should be. I'd say look into doing a full range of strengthening 2-3 times per week. You need to address all the potential muscle imbalances running causes, because everything is linked in the kinetic chain. Targeting one problem area will only produce other problem areas in the future. As much as I hate strength workouts I've learned the hard way and see what happens when I get lazy and stop for a while.

I wholly agree with the whole-system approach; whenever I have one muscle hurting/tight/whatever, I will make sure to thoroughly stretch everything twice (instead of once), not just the affected part.

I agree with your wife. Also happens if you're trying to turn over too large a gear (rarely happens here, since my cadence is in the freakishly high range of 95-105).
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Post  T Miller on Wed May 02, 2012 4:42 pm

Hey Mike, I usually do one legged squats off of a step. I lower my heel down to the floor and raise back up. I do it two ways. Type 1 is done standing with the step to your side and lower your heel straight down. Type 2 is done like you're walking down the stairs and then back up.

I highly recommend p90x. I feel like it made me more durable and it totally transformed my running. My running career started off like this. I think it speaks for itself.

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