Like many, for the last 10 weeks, I have been trying to keep fit in “iso” by joining an online, train at home program (special mention to f45 Kensington).
Not being able to train at the gym or do any group classes, meant I would be forced to try and “go it alone” and try and to do some sort of physical exercise and movement from my lounge room. I endeavoured to walk most days when the weather allowed, but I wanted something more physically challenging that would get my heart rate up.
Initially, the virtual classes were great! The mix up of cardio and strength training using minimal equipment, surprisingly was enjoyable and I found I wasn’t missing the gym and all its equipment nearly as much as I thought… I was getting a solid 45 minute workout done on a daily basis, from the comfort of my own home and breaking out into a regular sweat with exercises like burpees, jump lunges, high knee running, skipping, jump squats, push ups, planks and sit ups.
Fast forward a few weeks, and that’s when my knees decided they weren’t so happy. A dull ache developed on the front of both my knees, something I’d never really experienced before. My knees would hurt when I would go to stand (from sitting) and would ache at the beginning of every training session. Talking to friends, I found I was not alone. Many others, like me, had “sore knees” from their recent change to home training… So what’s the deal?
I had developed “jumper’s knee” or more technically – Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)- this is described as pain at the front (anterior) part of the knee and the knee cap (Patella) often caused by overuse.
The symptoms of PFPS are pain in the knee during exercise, specifically any activities that repeatedly bend the knee, such as climbing stairs, running, jumping, or squatting (thank you jump squats and lunges!), and pain when standing after long periods of sitting.
PFPS is usually caused by exercise/activity that puts vigorous repeated stress on the knee- like all that extra jumping and squatting I had been doing! Coupled with training in my lounge room (which has hard timber floors, not the rebound flooring most gyms have) it was a recipe for disaster!
So what can you do to treat PFPS?
Well I spent a few days minimising the jumping and squatting I was doing and modified my activity to within my comfort zone (activity modification). I also started training on an EVA foam mat (much like the one on the right from Kmart). This was a big help in reducing the stress felt on my knee when doing any sort of jumping or high impact activity.
I also made sure I wore my newer runners for training- and not my older pair. Footwear for exercise plays a vital role in injury prevention. Ensuring you have a proper pair of running or cross training shoes (not the lifestyle/sneaker shoes) with adequate cushioning, will massively help to reduce the impact forces through your feet and lower limb. Suggestions of running shoes like the New Balance More or New Balance 1080 and the Brooks Levitate provide maximum cushioning, perfect for the high impact of functional training. And of course, ensure you have appropriate technique with any of the exercises, this is where your trainer can help you the most!
Below: The New Balance More, New Balance 1080 & Brooks Glycerin.
By making these simple changes, my knees are feeling MUCH better!
However, should you experience symptoms even after these simple interventions, I suggest seeking the opinion of a Physiotherapist (for an assessment and possible strengthening program to target any strength deficits they may uncover) and also a Podiatrist- who can help to assess your feet and training footwear to make sure your in the most appropriate running/training shoe for your foot type/function and also prescribe orthotics (shoe inserts) if required for any biomechanical issues.
Sincerely yours in Burpees,
Jess O’Neil (Podiatrist)