Hi, everyone. I wanted to get the advice of other runners here, as I'm trying to figure out why my knees have suddenly started hurting, and what kind of specialist I might go see if I can't figure it out myself.
I've been running for 20+ years; I'm turning 45 in a couple of weeks. This is purely recreational running--I race occasionally. My training runs vary from 4-12 miles, depending on terrain, available time, speed, goals, and weather. I have and continue to run on a variety of surfaces; I live in the middle of Philadelphia, but there are many parks and trails here, so I run on concrete, asphalt, grass, leaves, and uneven trails. I have very occasionally had knee pain, but it never lasts more than one run.
So here's the breakdown on the pain:
It starts about 3-4 miles into the run. It's on both sides of the knee. It's been going on for about 6 weeks. The pain gets severe, often debilitating.
In between runs, I've had knee pain when navigating stairways (more so on descending).
I've been running on these shoes for about 4 months with no problems.
I haven't changed the terrain I'm running on, nor have I increased the frequency of my running (still running 3-4 times a week).
Here's what has changed, right around the time the knee pain started:
I stopped doing heavy lifting in the gym: no more heavy back squats or deadlifts. I changed to bodyweight-only strength training (which has been fantastic for my balance and my long-abused shoulders). None of those exercises are new; just doing more of them. Doing lots of pistol squats, hover lunges, air squats.
I got a Concept2 rower. Been hitting this hard because it's fun--about 3 times a week, I'll do interval training, and maybe one longer workout.
If I had to take an educated guess, I'd say that the kneecaps are somewhat out of alignment, possibly due to a strength imbalance in the quadriceps created by doing more pistol squats (not likely, as I did lots of these before) or rowing erg workouts.
What I've tried so far:
Different shoes: I tried running with a minimal-drop pair of Inov8's, with no effect on the onset or duration or severity of the pain. Same painful experience.
Foam roller: daily, painful work on my IT band and entire upper thighs and hips. Lots of stretching. Everything is bound up and tight.
Lots of rest. As much as I hate it, I've dropped my running almost entirely until I can figure this out. I want my running back.
What I'm considering:
No rowing for a while--maybe cut it out for a month and see what happens.
Would love any feedback or suggestions. What sort of specialist would you go see? A physical therapist? Exercise physiologist? Thanks in advance.