In December I mentioned some of my more recent health troubles, mainly jumper’s knee. For those that need a refresher, here is that account: Overcoming the Jumper's Knee: A First Hand Account. Two months later, my knee pain is under control, but not completely gone. From speaking to many distance runners, the importance of calf strength had a big role in easing my knee pain. To combat that, I developed a regime of calf training exercises utilizing a few easy workouts and equipment.
The physiology of the human body is akin to the basic principles of physics. The pushing, pulling, and impact of gravity tends to put additional and unnecessary wear and tear on our bodies. For jumper’s knee, this is from poor running habits. Once the condition is afflicted, it is easily exacerbated and difficult in completely subsiding. Usually, it is caused by a poor foot strike that sends the shockwaves up to the knees. Now there are many running forms, but the consensus is that a mid-foot strike is ideal. This allows shock to be evenly distributed and to avoid shin splints. With those who have an extremely chronic form of jumper’s knee like myself, this does not grant optimal results.
Running on my toes turns out to be the most therapeutic in relieving and preventing my knee pain. It is not the most efficient form because much energy is wasted, but it does provide for a good work out and serious calf strength. To put it into layman’s terms, you will become faster, stronger, and jump higher. These attributes do come at a potential setback for prolonged running on toes can lead to shin splints. This is best prevented by doing intervals and cycles of heavy running. Additionally, I performed calf strengthening exercises using the Strength shoes.
The most basic work out using these shoes would be short and quick sprints up and down your driveway with them on. This does two things: it gradually builds up your calf strength without injuring yourself, and it also allows you to gradually become acclimated to the balance and agility needed to use these training shoes.
Another work out that I perform are stair climbs. You simply don the Strength shoes on and ascend and descend a set of stairs. This strengthens the calf muscles, but also the other necessary muscles needed for a strong and proper running form. The quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors are activated in addition to the calves. When ascending the stairs, concentrate on driving the foreleg into the ground with power, and following through with the hind leg. This will add to the learning of a proper running form, and will make running on your toes a lot easier. Additionally, the proper leg muscles you probably ignored that lead to jumper’s knee will be worked out.
There are many theories and advices for ridding one’s self of jumper’s knee. This is merely my account. I am in no way a medical professional so as always, seek expert medical advice prior to starting any new exercise routine. As for myself, I am glad my to be along my journey of becoming knee pain free.