Sunday, July 10, 2011

What to Wear Running for Knees

Despite the talk of pounding on your joints, a recent study revealed that, if you don't already have bad knees, running moderate distances at a moderate pace is good for them.

Unfortunately, I already have bad knees, thanks to tearing my ACL more than 10 years ago. For now, I run anyway, but I've had to had to make some adjustments, including taking ibuprofen a few times a week, stretching my IT band and, after long runs, icing or taking an ice bath.

While training for my last marathon, I also started wearing a knee strap. Cues that a knee strap was in order:
  • Knee joints felt tender, sort of a soft, liquid soreness
  • Discoloration that looked like a bruise way beneath the surface, under my patella

You may have other signs; my point is, don't ignore them - they won't go away. My pain wasn't sharp, so I decided to keep running but try to reduce the impact with a knee strap. It worked - the bruising went away and, with icing and Vitamin I (ibuprofen), so did the gooey pain. I now have, and often wear, two straps (one for each leg, not two on one!). I like them both but prefer the Ace. Here's some details.

Ace knee strap:
  • Like: Velcro on both ends means it stay in place
  • Like: Wide fabric keeps the rough Velcro covered, so it never scratches your skin
  • Like/dislike: Cloth fabric on the front and back absorbs sweat
  • Dislike: Even the small is not quite small enough - the design makes it hard to get it tight enough (and I don't have skinny knees!)
  • Dislike: The front has a rough plastic ridge that, if I don't position the band correctly, scratches my other leg
McDavid knee strap:
  • Like: Exposed rubber knee brace really gets in, under the patella, creating a strong support
  • Like: Design lets me tighten the strap as much as I need
  • Like/dislike: Neoprene doesn't absorb sweat
  • Dislike: Neoprene isn't holding up well - starting to curl
  • Dislike: Non-Velcro end sometimes slips out from under the band (it just feels weird)

Both were available at my local, major drug store for less than $20.  These days, even shorter runs are taking their toll, so it was worth the small investment.

Be good to your knees and happy running!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Do You Need to Run

To run really only requires shoes, and even that seems up for debate these days. As we become "a runner," we each develop our own habits or routines around what we need. Personally, I would say I "need" the following:
  • Running shoes
  • Arch-supporting socks
  • Knees straps (one for each leg)
  • Shorts, capris or tights, depending on weather
  • Sports bra
  • Singlet, T or long-sleeved top, plus a jacket if it's cold
  • Hat
  • iPod
Sometimes, all of this gear plus the actual run feels like work. To keep my attitude up and the run feeling fresh, I occasionally remove an item or two. Today's run was made a little more fun just by running without socks.

Don't be afraid to leave your hat, heart rate monitor or even iPod at home sometimes. Change is good!