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Running and Aching Knees

I had given up running back in May of 2010 because of a sore tensor fasciae latae muscle. I started cycling instead.

Running Track

My sore TFL was a mixed blessing. You see, I don’t really enjoy running, but I know it’s the best way to keep my weight down and improve my cardiovascular health. It’s also a sport that requires very little equipment.

Quieted Tensor Fasciae Latae

Since my tensor faciae latae muscle seems to be in a good mood after the extended rest, I decided to give running another go. This time around, I’m using the information I found after much research to avoid aching knees and a mad TFL. I’m running using the barefoot method. I’m not truly barefoot, but pretty close. I’m actually running in water shoes.

From everything I’ve read about barefoot running, you must start out slow. Even the fittest marathoner should severely reduce her running distance when transitioning to barefoot running. I addressed this issue earlier on this blog.

Knee/Tensor Fasciae Latae/Calf Muscle Check

My running mileage is laughable at this stage of the game. I went to the local quarter-mile high school running track with my water shoes and ran ¼ mile then walked ¼. I repeated this a couple of times and then called it a day. It wasn’t that I was unable to run a mile; it’s that I didn’t want to run a barefoot mile and not be able to walk the next day.

When I got home, I didn’t have to engage in my post-running ritual of sitting on the sofa with ice on my knees. Additionally, my tensor fasciae latae muscles were quiet. Getting out of bed the next morning, however, was a bit of a chore. My lower calf muscles weren’t used to the barefoot running action and they let me know it (I was trying to avoid such discomfort).

Getting Back on Track

Because I’m not the spring chicken of my youth, I took a day off and then repeated the same running routine a day later. This time my calf muscles were a little less angry the following day. By my third run, my calf muscles seemed to have gotten used to the routine so I guess it’s time for me to slowly modify my run to remove the ¼ mile walk between laps.

I attribute the fact that I’m not suffering from knee or TFL pain to the barefoot running gait. When I run, I’m not coming down hard on my heels; I’m hitting the pad of my foot which seems to be a natural shock absorber. Rather than explain the barefoot running gait, check out this post where much more articulate and educated people explain it better.

About the author: Felicia has learned the hard way that health, whether good or bad, is a result of daily choices and habits. On this blog, Felicia shares what she’s learned and the healthier choices she now makes as a result of her new knowledge. She hopes to encourage others to experiment to find alternative solutions to nagging problems (she’s also is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment).

in As We Age, Barefoot, Fitness, Knees, Running, Tensor Fasciae Latae

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Marcia April 30, 2013, 5:18 pm

    Felcia- BEWARE of barefoot shoes!!! Ironic that I am following Felicia’s string of running woes in potential reverse order of my own. My problems started with barefoot shoes. I never even ran in them, but just wore them as off and on for about a year as everyday shoes working up to wearing them some days at work (Merrell has some cute dressier styles). As an aside, I have a very slight hammer toe on second toe. I also innately walk on the front of my foot all the time. Within a year I experienced pain in my left forefoot. Finally visited podiatrist and learned that the bone in the slightly lifted second toe was now breaking down the fibrous tissue that underlays the foot pad, and such injury is irreversible once it tears that tissue up. So I switched back to normal shoes with arch support and got a sling to hold the one toe in position to not knock the foot pad from inside. I babied the foot for 2 months and didn’t run on it.

    Then I went and did a short 3 miles race and got hammered in the first 2 minutes with an excruciating, throbbing Tensor Fasciae Latae pain. Felcia’s initial post on TFL gave me great info and how to treat the injury. Checked her follow up post and found the note on the barefoot shoes, so thought I would share my cautionary tale. Not all feet can handled barefoot shoes safely, without regard to how much time you take to build up.

    • Felicia May 1, 2013, 8:27 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Marcia. I guess we all have to take our particular body type and peculiarities into account before we engage on any new athletic endeavor. Fortunately for me, barefoot was a life saver. For others, it might not work out so well.

  • jeannaette January 20, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I am suffering from what is think is the same thing. Does it ever go away?