How to avoid re-injuring my knee and hip
June 4, 2015 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm starting an exercise routine that will consist of alternating walking & running, and I'm looking for advice on how to avoid re-injuring some joints that have been problematic in the past.

Last summer, after many years of slothfulness (see my earlier AskMeFi post about this), I started an exercise regimen that involved thrice-weekly sessions of walking alternating with slow running. I slowly built-up the duration and intensity, until I was covering about three or four miles. I was running on either pavement or a packed-dirt (smooth) trail. I have flat feet, and I was wearing these Asics shoes. I'm a male in my late 40s, moderately overweight.

I stopped the exercise routine in December, partly because of the poor weather, but also because I started having pain in my left hip and my right knee.

The hip pain manifested itself only when I was running – not walking, or sitting, or any other type of activity. I would feel it in my hip every time my left foot hit the pavement. The pain was not severe, but it had been gradually building from barely noticeable to something that became a real cause for concern. When I stopped exercising, the pain went away. If I run across the parking lot now, I do not experience any pain in my hip at all. I should note that I have never had any previous problems with my hip.

My right knee is a different story, as I've long experienced pain in it from walking or running. I first developed running-induced tendinitis in that knee about 30 years ago, and the knee has never been the same since. I’ve found that doing leg extensions (on a weight machine) helps strengthen the quadriceps muscle, which in turn helps the tendinitis.

I want to return to my earlier routine of walking and running, but I don’t want to re-injure myself. I also don’t have access to a gym anymore, so I can’t use a machine to do leg extensions.

Some cursory Google searches turn up quadriceps exercises such as this one. And there’s also this AskMeFi thread. So I have some material to work with here, though I’m definitely open to suggestions.

But with the hip pain, I’m more at a loss, because there is a vast array of hip-related exercises that come up in Google searches, and I have no previous experience with treating this injury. I’m also looking for something that’s targeted and not too time-consuming. If possible, I’d rather not do six different exercises each day.

I’m looking for any advice on this subject. I know you’re not my doctor, coach, or physical therapist. And I promise that I’ll seek medical attention if the injuries recur and my own measures don’t address them.
posted by alex1965 to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I really think it's wise to get a physiotherapist's advice.

That said, with a similar-sounding pattern of pain (but probably not identical, who knows what you really have!), I was prescribed glute bridges and partial squats, with flexion not greater than 45 degrees.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sorry - with the squats, the aim (for my problem) was to strengthen the vmo ( ). You can also try step-downs off a low step. Everything should be slow and controlled with a focus on the eccentric movement (ie the negative part of the contraction, when you're coming back up, which feels like you're "putting on the breaks").
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:39 AM on June 4, 2015

Try just walking, it's not as hard on the joints. Walk briskly, go more distance.
posted by mareli at 9:15 AM on June 4, 2015

You're my parallel universe twin - I've the exact same back-story and condition but in my left knee.

Long story short, this will get worse unless you get yourself to a physio and get some professional advice. In my case my feet were both pronating inwards, which in turn put rotation pressure on the kneecap, which then led to inflammation in the knee. This was aggravated by a mismatch in strength between my legs; my left leg (with the painful knee) was far stronger than my right leg, and was doing more work during my running session. And of course any pavement running is brutal on your joints, so getting onto grass if possible is better.

My physio put me on an instant stop on running, I had to get insoles for my shoes/runners, ice my knee twice daily, take anti-inflamatories and she gave me a series of strengthening exercises to compensate for the mis-matched muscle strengths which were torquing the knee cap around. It helped, though my running motivation cratered as a result.

Good luck - there's nothing worse than getting into running and then getting stalled from an injury!
posted by Not on your nellie at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2015

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