Knees, feet and my lazy arse

WARNING: This is a longish post about running and my attempts to fix problems with running style. If such things bore you, look away now!


In a previous post I mentioned that I’d been having knee trouble.

I’ve had my eye on doing the Forest of Dean Half Marathon in September but I’ve been waiting to see if my knee could take it.

It can't.


I’ve found that if I run for anything up to forty minutes my knee is fine but after that it starts to feel weak and, if I push things, eventually starts to hurt and things rapidly go downhill from there. To the point where I can’t run at all and even walking gets uncomfortable.

Frankly the situation isn’t acceptable.

I came up with a plan. Take Glucosamine to help support my knee and go to a running shop and get a gait analysis to get the right running shoes. All being well I’d be able to start training for the half marathon by the end of the week.

I bought the Glucosamine and have started taking it. Easy.

A few weeks ago I went to Easy Runner in Bristol. They were really good to me in there and a nice woman called Jenna spent lots of time trying to find the best running shoe for me.

Problem was, despite a truly heroic effort by Jenna none of the shoes worked. My right foot pronates very, very slightly and my left foot pronates really quite a lot.

So much so that none of the shoes made any difference, even the super duper specialist supportive ones.  Unfortunately they did make a difference to my right foot, over-supporting it and causing discomfort.

Jenna tried some inserts but again they failed to help.

I left despondent but not without hope. Jenna gave me a leaflet about something called orthotics (essentially custom built inserts).

The following week I went to see the lovely Martin Bell* at the Berkeley Centre in Bristol. He spent a long time examining the way my legs worked and explaining what was going on to me.

I knew I had pronation in my left foot. I knew this meant my left knee was being put under stress. What I didn’t know was that my muscles were also part of the problem. In fact it turns out I have the following problems:

-Pronation (left foot**)
-Weak foot control
-Tight hamstrings (which tend to make my calf muscles tight), which also leads to:
-Short stride
and last, my favourite:
-Lazy glutes

All of these things combine to fatigue my knee as it and my other muscles have to compensate.

And to cap it off, I was running with my feet pointing outwards instead of forwards. (Yes, a bit like a duck.)

This left me feeling pretty glum.

Luckily Martin was on hand to give me exercises and stretches to help. I also have to try and take longer steps when I walk which is surprisingly hard to do consistently. In addition he suggested interval training (intense bursts of running followed by stretching).

I’ve just started all of this and can report that interval training is hard! It’s also a bit less fun as I have to time myself.

Martin also fitted me up for my orthotics which should be ready in a week or so. Then I can start building up my running again.

I should point out the idea here is not to make me dependent on the orthotics rather to get my feet in the correct position while I build up the muscles around them.

I’ll let you know how it goes.



*He does a great Donald Duck impression

**It's so bad it's worth saying twice

4 responses to “Knees, feet and my lazy arse

  1. Lazy arse, that's funny. Sorry to hear about the continued knee problem, that must be very frustrating. It won't help with the half marathon, but have you considered cycling instead of running? Could be easier on the knees? You'd have to rename the blog Bike Pete, Write! though….

    • There is that! Hopefully all this work will mean my leg will be aligned properly and my knee will have a much easier time of it.

  2. At least you know what is wrong now! I too suffered from tight hamstrings and lazy glutes, and I have a problem where tight muscles on my inner left thigh pull my patella out of position. But it is all fixable, so hopefully yours will be too.

    Did anyone suggest a neutral shoe for one foot and a stability shoe for the other? I am wondering if that would work, although it would cost you two pairs of shoes I guess…

    • Yes, I am glad to know what's wrong and have a plan. I just hope it works. The problem with the shoe ting is that none of the shoes gave my left foot enough support, otherwise that would have been an (expensive) option.

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