“I’m not afraid of ice!”
I was almost to the end of my third Minnesota winter in college and was quite happy that I’d avoided any winter weather mishaps. Unfortunately, my streak came to a halt one fateful February Friday night in the Target parking lot. It was an innocent grocery run with my roommates when I struck a patch of black ice, sending me straight down to the pavement. The first thing to contact the ground was the outside of my right knee cap, which took the majority of the blow. I bounced right back up: I was an ex-basketball player whose knee had slammed onto the court numerous times while diving for a loose ball. How was this any different?The next day, I proudly sported a huge bruise and a good amount of stiffness in my knee from swelling. But that was not about to stop me – after a day of rest on Sunday and walking through campus on Monday during the school day, my knee loosened up and was ready for track practice (I had a big race to prep for that Saturday!). Track practice was manageable, but Tuesday morning I woke to a painful surprise – enough swelling in my knee to hinder walking, let alone running.
My new best friends were a black and red compression knee brace and the notoriously teeth-chattering ice bath. A few days later, I was back to running (escorted by my new knee brace, of course), and the decision needed to be made if I was actually going to race that weekend. I hadn’t even planned to enter this competition, but after a leg cramp deterred a potential season best time two weeks ago, I decided I wanted to take one last stab at my indoor 800m personal best before ending my indoor season.
Motivated by my desire to finish the indoor season strong, the fact that my coach said he would drive 3 hours to watch me (and only one other runner) race, and that my dad would also be in attendance at the meet, I decided that a little knee “owy” was not going to stop me. I was encouraged by my trainer to wear the knee brace during the race to provide more support, but while I was warming up, Coach said if I was going to race, I needed to go all: ditch the brace!I’m still not sure how it was physically possible, but not only did I run a personal indoor best in the 800m that day, and I also somehow forgot about the pain in my knee! It turned out to be one of my most memorable races – one with a lot of spunk (and a lot of grace!).
However, while the swelling in my knee decreased and eventually was gone, the pain in my knee did not leave. Additional work with my trainer revealed that my knee cap was not staying in place while I ran; it continued to be pulled to the side of my knee, creating significant discomfort while I ran. I trained and competed that outdoor season with my knee taped – every practice, every race. I was thankful to be able to continue running with limited or no pain in my knee (most of the time), but it was another frustrating injury to add to the laundry list of the others I was managing.I didn’t expect NUCCA care to help the problem I had with my knee – but it did. In fact, within three months of starting care, I felt like someone had given me a new pair of legs, and there was no need for taping my knee!
Are you nursing old injuries from falls, sporting events, or other accidents? If so, putting your body back in balance can help you heal. I wish I would have known that sooner. But as for now, I will always be able to identify any pictures from my junior outdoor track season (just check the right knee for a huge square of tape), and I think I will continue to take care to avoid another ice attack and to make sure my body stays balanced.